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'It was more than a race': 19-year-old from Plano has shattered expectations his entire life

He stands 4-foot, 2-inches tall, but in terms of character, Ricardo is nothing short of a giant.

Ricardo Benitez has not yet come down.

"We were all excited," said the Baylor football team member, "I think we had so much adrenaline in us."

Along with a couple of his Baylor teammates and some friends, Benitez pulled off a remarkable athletic feat.

"I heard them blaring music downstairs, and it was like go time," said Baylor quarterback Brandon Bass. "I was excited, felt like I was about to go play a game."

When WFAA met with Benitez to share his story, he wore a T-shirt with the word fearless printed on it. But that word only begins to tell his story.

Ricardo’s parents got the news before he was born. Doctors said he suffered from a rare birth deformity called, femoral hypoplasia. It was doubtful whether he could even walk. 

Now, Ricardo stands 4-foot, 2-inches tall.

"Basically, he has no thigh bones on both sides," said his mother JoAnne Benitez. "It’s a very rare condition but nothing has stopped him."

Nothing, including the challenge of playing football at Plano West High School, where he was a receiver and actually played in a couple of games.

"You grow up in Texas, football is everything,” said Ricardo. "Growing up I was thinking, 'Why can’t I play football? I want to play football, too.'"

He then took it to the next level, walking on at Baylor, where he is now a member of the team.

"It’s really cool to be part of the roster, have my own locker and it’s all cool," said Ricardo.

Looking for yet another challenge, Ricardo decided to train for a road race. And after it was postponed because of COVID-19 concerns, he decided to run it anyway.

"I don’t want to wake up 10, 20, 30 years from now and think, I wish I did this, I wish I did that," he said.

That race was the Silo District Marathon in Waco. On the day it was scheduled, Ricardo and company ran it anyway.

"The hardest thing I’ve done in my life I think so far is that marathon just because the physical and mental focus that it took for 13-plus hours was just...it was tough,” he said.

It took more than 13 hours to complete the course, that had to be altered on the fly because the original course proved to be too hilly.

"There’s just no doubt in his mind,” said Bass. "He’s just so determined that there’s no stopping him. He doesn’t know what quit means."

The marathon, a microcosm of Ricardo's life. Despite all the obstacles, he got the job done.

"Proud is not even a big enough word to describe how I can say what an amazing man he’s grown up to be," said his mother JoAnne.

"With football, I worked really hard for it,” Richardo said. "But some people might see it as it was given to me. With the marathon, no one can take that away from me. We all traveled 26.2 miles, and no one can take that from me," he said. 

When he crossed the finished line, Ricardo let out a primal scream, that not only signified the end of the day’s remarkable journey but so much more.

"Being a kid, seeing stares, seeing laughs, seeing finger points, all the emotion I faced and when I let out that scream like, you guys were wrong,” he said. “You guys said, I couldn’t so this. You guys tried to put me in a cage and define me, so that scream that yells at the end was you can’t stop me." 

"Say what you want about everything else, but that marathon, that’s me," he said.

Yes, every bit of the unwavering determination that defines Ricardo Benitez.

“I can do anything, now,” he said.

He stands 4-foot, 2-inches tall, but in terms of character, Ricardo is nothing short of a giant.

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