Legless teen reels in 250-pound lemon shark

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News
Deep Sea Boston Science Museum
A Lemon Shark swims near the sunlit surface of the Bahamas.

Matt Sechrist, 19, was born without legs.

On Tuesday, with two friends holding his wheelchair in place, Sechrist reeled in an 8-foot, 250-pound lemon shark off the North Florida coast.

Family friend Ed Parrish kayaked a few hundred feet off the beach and dropped the bait while Sechrist put on a fighting harness and locked his wheelchair's brakes. Sechrist struggled with the shark for an hour before the huge fish tired and was reeled it.

Sechrist took photos with the shark, then released it into the ocean.

"That's a memory that I'll be able to keep forever," Sechrist, from Clay County, Florida, told the St. Augustine Record. "That's a special moment that I can use. Just one more thing on the résumé of things that I've done."

Sechrist's résumé of things he's done includes skydiving, waterskiing and middle-school wrestling. He plans on playing wheelchair basketball while studying human performance at Pennsylvania's Edinboro University in the fall.

He hopes to eventually train other wheelchair-bound athletes.

"I don't want people to look at me and my disability and see what I can't do," Sechrist said. "I'd rather them see me for what I can do."