Speed Reads

to the finish line

High school runner pushes her brother in his wheelchair during every race

While most high school athletes have their family cheering for them on the sidelines, Susan Bergeman's brother Jeffrey is there every step of the way during her 3.1-mile cross country races.

For every practice and meet, Susan, 14, runs while pushing Jeffrey, 15, in his wheelchair. When he was 22 months old, Jeffrey went into sudden cardiac arrest, which led to severe brain damage and a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. It was important to Susan that she find a way to get her brother involved in an activity at their West Salem, Wisconsin, high school, and the cross country team made sense. "He loves running," she told KARE 11. "I think it helps me get even closer to my brother."

Multiple people said it would be too hard for Susan to push the heavy wheelchair uphill and on uneven terrain, but "I'm a very competitive person, so I almost feel like I have a point to prove," she said. When it does start to get difficult, Susan told KARE 11, she will "push away the pain and focus on him enjoying it," adding that "hearing everyone screaming and cheering gives me a big adrenaline rush."

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Associate, which regulates high school sports in the state, said that while Jeffrey could run with Susan, the race times aren't official and can't be counted. Their parents and coach have petitioned to change this decision.