Area High School Student Finalist in National Inspirational Athlete Contest

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Daniel Shannon, a freshman at Tunkhannock Area High School is one of 10 finalists for the 2014 USA Today National Guard Inspiration contest.

The contest features some of the most inspirational high school athletes from across the country.

Fans, coaches and athletes were asked to nominate athletes who not only excel on the field, but also off, by overcoming adversity or finding time to give back to the community.

Voting for the final round ends on April 15.

According to Daniel’s biography on USA Today, he is “determined to qualify for an event at the district swim meet next year in spite of being born with Asperger’s Syndrome, a genetic neurological disorder on the Autism spectrum.

“In spite of the challenges he faces on a daily basis, he is able to adapt and in addition to his swimming he maintains an A average in school and plans to swim in college some day.

“This year, Daniel’s first year on the varsity swim team, marked Daniel’s fourth year of swimming and although he didn’t reach his goal of swimming the 50 freestyle in under 40 seconds, he came close, and he and his coach will continue to work on that next year.”

Here’s a clip of Daniel competing:

Inspirational stories abound in this year’s contest. According to KFOR in Kansas City, Mo., Nick Hibbeler, a soccer player and testicular cancer survivor was originally voted into the finals of the USA Today contest.

In true inspirational fashion, Nick gave up his spot in the top ten, asking that Dominique Cooks, a student fighting inoperable brain cancer be placed there instead.

“My health prognosis has been pretty good for the most part and Dominique’s…he hasn’t been so lucky,” Nick said.

Dominique Cooks is a high school senior in at Decatur High School in Federal Way, Wash. Doctors told him he had little time left to live, and was not expected to survive to graduation, so on Feb. 20, his school held a graduation ceremony especially for him. (read more at

You can vote for Daniel Shannon and learn more about other inspirational finalists here.