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Paralympian relies on the faith behind his religious medals as he goes for gold

Brian Siemann

Kieran Galvin | NurPhoto | AFP

Cerith Gardiner - published on 08/29/21

The track and field athlete's story is both impressive and inspiring.

Track and field athlete, Brian Siemann, is impressive. He is not only representing the USA at the Tokyo Paralympics this week, but his strong faith has shaped his entire life.

Siemann’s very existence stems from his devout mother’s intercession to St. Gerard when she and her husband were experiencing fertility problems. Their prayers were answered when the couple welcomed quadruplets — Brian among them.

Unfortunately, just after birth, a doctor’s mistake left Brian paralyzed from the waist down. While his life was full of activities, it was only in his freshman year at a Catholic high school in New Jersey that he was introduced to track and field.

Along with the encouragement of his faith and his coach, Joe McLaughlin, Brian proved to have some impressive skills. “He kept believing and I think that was what formed him,” his mother shared.

As Siemann takes part in his third Paralympics, his mother will be praying for her son’s success, although — as she shared in an interview with the Catholic News Agency — she’ll rely on her husband to keep her posted on her son’s race, as she’ll be too stressed to watch. Brian will be participating in a number of races (including the 5000-meter; the 1500-meter; the 800-meter; the 400-meter; the 100-meter; and the marathon) so his mother will no doubt be leaning on her faith more than ever!

However, as Siemann strives to collect a few athletic medals, he can also rely on his religious medals to help him on his way. His mother shared that all her children have a particular devotion to the Miraculous Medal, and her sporty son also has a “St. Michael medal; and St. George — his middle name is George.”

While Siemann can face the starting line with a little extra fervor thanks to his powerful intercessors, he can also pray his hard work will play a part in his search for gold. As his school coach McLaughlin shared, “He is probably the hardest working kid you’d ever meet and the nicest kid.”

The coach also shared how his old student didn’t like to be the center of attention, despite all the praise he received for his sporting efforts.

It was thanks to a school fundraiser instigated by McLaughlin that $5,000 was raised to buy Siemann a specialized wheelchair. From there the Brooklyn native received a full scholarship to the University of Illinois, where his athletic abilities went from strength to strength thanks to the customized training.

As his mom describes, McLaughlin went “the extra mile” for her son that “changed his whole life.” And in return, Siemann hopes to use his master’s in English and Secondary Education to teach kids with special needs when he finishes his racing career. At the moment, in between training sessions, he helps kids who are having difficulties in English.

Siemann’s story is inspirational in so many ways. While he certainly has some impressive athletic abilities, his faith and the support of those who’ve championed him over the years demonstrate how obstacles can be overcome.


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