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Jeffrey and Susan running together

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 6:37 PM CDT
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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - Jess, Jordan, Susan and Jeffrey Bergeman, a family of runners, with the sister and brother duo of Susan and Jeffrey continuing the unique family tradition.

The Chippewa Falls freshman, Susan, said, “Both my parents started running, my mom started out with Jeffrey and then dad took over and at one point I was maybe 10, I wanted to run a race with him so we did our first 5k together and I loved it and it was so much fun. It does get challenging at points, especially up hills and different harder points of the course but I know he enjoys it and I enjoy being out there with him.

Susan added, “Running with my brother is even more fun because then you are not by yourself and you’re not just out there going alone. You have someone with you and there to encourage you along the way, especially at those harder points.”

Jeffrey, who has cerebral palsy and suffered cardiac arrest at just 22 months old, would run with his sister, Susan, throughout middle school. Then this year, the siblings were off to high school for their freshman year.

Mom and dad asked Susan if she wanted to take a break from running with her brother... the question was answered with a stern reply.

The siblings father, Jordan said, “No, there is no way we are not doing cross country together and it’s very impressive to see her step out of her comfort zone like that to do that with her brother and without a second thought too.

Mother Jess said, “She looked at me as if I had two heads like, absolutely not, this was not even an option, they were doing cross country together and I’m so proud of her. Once she settled in on like this is what we are doing, it was kind of a matter of, ok we need to get all of the adults on board to make sure this can actually happen because she is going to do this and she is making sure her brother is going to be out there too.”

So the running began and the Chi-Hi and cross country community embraced Susan and Jeffrey with open arms. The brother and sister duo rarely, if ever, finish in last place at any of their meets but one problem remains... Susan and Jeffrey are not yet recognized by the WIAA.

Susan said, “We are currently exhibition, we are not competing at all, there are a lot of rules that are on us like we aren’t suppose to pass people and we are suppose to go slow and let everyone finish first and our results don’t matter and my brother and I are both super competitive so it does kind of annoy us a little bit.

Jess added, “This first year, it’s ok that it’s kind of just starting to get people aware that this can happen, that the kids can do this safely but beyond that we want them to see they can actually be true competitors and true athletes on the field.”

The Bergeman family believes those goals will come to life in the near future but until then, Susan and Jeffrey will continue to catch that runners high!

Susan said, “It’s just something that we are doing, it is different and people aren’t used to it but I’m used to it so it’s kind of just something I am doing with my brother. I do think about how it can be physically challenging or emotionally challenging but it’s just, we are having fun, and we hope to get to a competitive level and just evolve this sport and make it so that it is more inclusive.”

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