Editor’s Note: 37 year old Aimee Bruder has had cerebral palsy all her life. She qualified for her sixth Paralympic Games this year. She attended her first Paralympic Games in 1992. She competes in the freestyle, the breast stroke, the individual medley and the backstroke. She won three bronze medals in the Atlanta Paralympic Games, a silver medal from the Sydney, Australia Paralympic Games and a bronze medal at China. She qualified in North Dakota on June 14th – 16th, 2012, to swim the 50 meter backstroke for her classification. Athletes with cerebral palsy compete according to the amount of function they have. The highest functioning athletes are classified as S10. The athletes with the least amount of physical function are classified as S1. All her classifications were deleted this year, so she has moved up to a higher classification and will be swimming the 100 freestyle, the 200 freestyle, and the 100 breast stroke in the S5 classification. However, she still will be able to swim the backstroke in the S4 classification. Part 2 of a 5 part series.
Cerebral palsy is a congenital disease from the lack of oxygen to the brain before, during or after birth. “I never realized that I was different,” Aimee Bruder says. “All of us are on the same earth, we all have challenges, and we all have different things that we have to deal with or overcome. Everyone has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. My family never treated me differently from the other kids in my family. From the time I was big enough to go, I had to go to physical and occupational therapy. I have had 12 to 15 surgeries in my lifetime.” In elementary school, Bruder was mainstreamed and went to school with her siblings. “I realized that my body might be affected, but my brain worked like everyone else’s did,” Bruder reports. “I thought it was really cool to be a part of the gang and not be segregated due to my disability. I went to PE, chemistry, math and all the other classes that everyone in my school attended. As a matter of fact, my schoolmates thought I was cool. The cool part of my being in the classes was that I could get someone out of class early. When I had to get out of my class early to get to my next class on time, I could choose a helper to get me where I needed to go. Everyone wanted to get out of class early. I got to pick the person to be my helper, and he or she got out early too. If someone was out sick, I got to pick another person to be my helper for that day. I always had someone willing to help me out.”
When Bruder moved up from elementary school to high school, school was more difficult, and her classes were more challenging. Aimee Bruder was an average teenager. Just like every other teenager, she thought the world was against her from time to time. High school wasn’t one of Aimee Bruder’s favorite times of life. She didn’t identify well with the many social cliques in high school. “There were bullies in high school, but I also had friends who protected me,” Bruder says. “We would protect each other. The worst bully that I had was insecure about herself, and I’m sure that was why she tried to make me feel bad – so she could feel better. But rather than giving her the attention she was seeking, I ignored her.”
Aimee Bruder’s sanctuary was the swimming pool, the swimming team and the competitions she entered. During that time, Aimee Bruder had a long distance boyfriend. So, if you looked at Bruder objectively, she experienced the same trials and tribulations as any other high school student. She had to learn to deal with them and learn from her trials just like every other high schooler. And, even though she had physical challenges, she saw and realized that the other students in her school had problems they were dealing with also. After high school, Aimee Bruder didn’t hesitate to go to college.
Next: Aimee Bruder’s Journey To The Paralympics
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com