Susan Bergeman is a 14-year-old freshman at Chippewa Falls High School in Wisconsin. She decided to go out for cross country this fall. Her main reason – to find an activity that would include her older brother, Jeffrey. You see, at the young age of 22 months, Jeffrey suffered a cardiac arrest, which caused a lack of oxygen to the brain for 20 minutes. The damage was profound and irreversible. Almost everything that we take for granted in our daily lives, Jeffrey can no longer do. And yet, his soul remains intact. He has emotions and passions, but he is trapped inside his own body.
Susan has remained close with her brother. She has tremendous empathy for his situation. She is always looking for ways to keep her brother included. So, she pushes Jeffrey in a specialized stroller the entire 5k in each cross country race. It’s a struggle, but to Susan, it’s worth it. “Hearing everyone screaming and cheering gives me a very big adrenalin rush,” said Susan. Susan will probably never win a medal for her efforts, but running is bringing her closer to her brother.
Joe’s Perspective: This is a very touching story. It reminds me of the relationship between Dick and Rick Hoyt, a father-son duo who raced in hundreds of races together, including many marathons and triathlons. This story again shows me that there are so many different reasons for participating in sport and so many different ways to gain satisfaction from sport. Winning and competing are sometimes secondary to the journey. Thank you to Susan and Jeffrey for teaching us this lesson once again. I will do my best to remember this lesson.
Your Turn: After watching this video and reading this blog, what are your thoughts about Susan and Jeffrey?