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Brian Siemann, a paralympian raised with Catholic faith

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by Joe Bukuras

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 26, 2021 / 17:49 pm

After praying to St. Gerard about fertility problems, Teresa Siemann got more than she bargained for with quadruplets, one of whom is Brian Siemann, a world-class athlete now competing in his third paralympic games.

Teresa told CNA in an interview that she’ll be praying and “will probably wait for my husband to tell me what happened in the race because I’ll be so anxious”

Brian, who previously competed in the Rio and London paralympic games, will be competing in events on the track beginning Aug. 27. His events include the 5000-meter; the 400-meter; the 1500-meter; the 100-meter; the 800-meter; and the marathon.

A graduate of a Catholic high school in New Jersey, Brian was formed by his Catholic faith, his mother said. “He kept believing and I think that was what formed him,” she said.

Teresa told CNA that she brought her children up praying the rosary and that all of her children, including Brian, have devotion to the Miraculous Medal.

“He still has his medals: The miraculous medal, the St. Michael medal; and St. George- his middle name is George,” she said.

Teresa spoke of a time Brian, now 31, spoke at his Catholic elementary school and answered a question about prayer.

Teresa told CNA, “[Brian] said that’s something private between you and God but I always just put my head down and say my prayers and that will get you through.”

Brian’s high school track coach, Joseph McLaughlin attested to the athlete’s work ethic.

“He is probably the hardest working kid you’d ever meet and the nicest kid,” McLaughlin, Head Track and Field Coach at Notre Dame High School said.

McLaughlin told CNA although Brian was was praised many times, he never liked to be the center of attention.

Brian’s racing career began at Notre Dame High School, when McLaughlin helped lead a fundraiser to buy Brian a racing wheelchair for him which cost around $5,000. Brian’s coach supported him so he would be able to compete on the track with his classmates.

Brian earned a full scholarship to the University of Illinois where he was able to receive tailored coaching in wheelchair racing. It was in college that he had his first Paralympic appearance in London.

Teresa told CNA that McLaughlin “changed Brian’s whole life” by “going the extra mile.” She mentioned that Brian has a passion for teaching and hopes to teach after racing.

“He’s got a wonderful brain,” she said. “He has a master’s in English and Secondary Education to teach kids with special needs.”

Teresa told CNA that Brian volunteers his free time to help students who are struggling in their classes. “He knows what kids are struggling in English, so he helps them with writing because he can’t really teach [full-time] because he has to train twice a day.”

Brian was not born disabled. A mistake by a doctor in the hospital caused the six-day-old child to have paralysis beginning at his abdomen is located.

Teresa told CNA Brian always had a positive attitude and appreciated that his mother “never treated him any differently and neither did his siblings.”

With laughter, Teresa told CNA, “One day I pulled him into a handicapped spot one day and he says, ‘who’s disabled?’”

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