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Cold Spring 6th-grader winner of MLB's Breaking Barriers essay contest

reds.com

CINCINNATI -- Representatives from the Reds visited St. Joseph Parish in Cold Spring, Ky. earlier today to recognize sixth-grader Nathaniel Heck, one of the winners of Major League Baseball's 2018 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest, which honors the legacy of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

As one of ten prize winners, Nathaniel received a new laptop computer, courtesy of Microsoft, and additional prizes for his class including Breaking Barriers T-shirts, Reds hats and books written by Jackie's daughter Sharon Robinson.

CINCINNATI -- Representatives from the Reds visited St. Joseph Parish in Cold Spring, Ky. earlier today to recognize sixth-grader Nathaniel Heck, one of the winners of Major League Baseball's 2018 Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life essay contest, which honors the legacy of Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson.

As one of ten prize winners, Nathaniel received a new laptop computer, courtesy of Microsoft, and additional prizes for his class including Breaking Barriers T-shirts, Reds hats and books written by Jackie's daughter Sharon Robinson.

The Breaking Barriers essay contest asks students in grades four through nine to submit an essay about barriers or obstacles they have faced or are still facing in their lives, and how they overcame these obstacles using the values demonstrated by Jackie Robinson.

Nathaniel's sixth grade teacher Elizabeth Mulrey found out about the annual essay contest from Scholastic and challenged her students to submit essays.

Nate, as he's called by his friends and family, submitted his essay with the title "Breaking Barriers with OCD."

In the essay, Nate described how he's worked to overcome his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder with help from his family, teachers at St. Joseph and therapists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

"Throughout my struggles I have used many of Jackie's values," said Nate in his essay. "I have used teamwork when working with my parents, my therapist, and the others who have supported me. I use persistence, commitment, and determination because I never give up. I used courage when I first realized that many of the children my age with this problem don't get over this issue for a while, but I didn't give up hope."

Since submitting the essay, Nate's family has noticed a significant change in his ability to communicate about his OCD.

"His therapist and his med doctor both said he talks more about his OCD since he wrote the essay," said Nate's mother Angela Heck.

Nate now feels comfortable sharing about his OCD and hopes his story will spread awareness about the disorder.

"Writing the Breaking Barriers essay made me actually think about it and gave me the courage to talk openly about it," said Nate.

Nate is the third winner of the essay contest with connections to the Cincinnati Reds. Megan Zahneis was the grand prize winner in 2011 as a freshman at Lakota West. Reds minor league pitcher Hunter Greene was a winner in 2013 as a freshman at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Ca.

Since its inception in 1997, the Breaking Barriers contest has reached more than 34 million children and 4.6 million educators in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information on Breaking Barriers: In Sports, In Life, please visit MLB.com/breakingbarriers.

Cincinnati Reds