‘Awesome to see:’ Wheelchair athletes inspire young Milwaukee students to fight through adversity

MILWAUKEE -- Just about every athlete has to overcome something to be successful. One group of athletes in our area most definitely did -- but they said the adversity they've dealt with isn't much different from everybody else.

"It's really, really awesome to see," said Raynae Johnson, sixth-grader.

Students at Garden Homes Lutheran School on Milwaukee's north side filled the gym to watch and learn about wheelchair athletics.

"We actually got to shake our hands and meet them upfront and get to play with them, get to know them better, and how they just really inspired us to do what we can to make the best of it and do everything we put our minds to," said Johnson.

The students have been learning about adversity and what it takes to overcome life's obstacles and the event helped illustrate their lesson.

"We were talking about a lot of challenges and how people go through those challenges every day and how they live with those challenges or make the best of them," said Johnson.

While the day was fun for the athletes, it was also important.

Jordan Schiedecker

"I try to have conversations with people to let them know that having understanding for someone's situation is very important. If you have an understanding, it creates a conversation and there is no gray area for confusion and people's feelings to get hurt and things like that. So when I can come out and explain my situation to someone and let them know it may not be as serious as they think it is, like, I always think that is really important," said Jordan Schiedecker, with Wisconsin Adaptive Sports Association (WASA).

It was an effort to draw similarities between the athletes and students, regardless of disability.

"I come from a place that they come from. I understand some of their situations and for them to see someone like me who came from their situation and got to go to school and got to live his dream and keeps being able to do those kind of things I think is so huge," said Schiedecker.

It proved inspiration can come from anywhere and anyone.

"There is just some much other stuff that I go through and people go through, I think, that's honestly how you become an inspiration -- just dealing with adversity, and you go through something and you overcome it," Schiedecker said. "Someone who is in your situation says, 'you know what? I saw you overcome that so now I can too.' It's that kind of thing -- everyone really has a chance to be that inspiration."