As athletes descend on Brazil for the Rio Paralympic Summer Games in September, Drew Bremer, 21, will be among them.
Bremer, a member of Alger Park Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., is on the United States men’s Paralympic soccer team, also known as football 7-a-side. Players must have cerebral palsy or similar neurological conditions to qualify for the team. Bremer was born with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, causing stiffness and weakness in muscles on one side of the body. For Bremer, it’s on his right side.
Although sometimes he sees his disability as a disadvantage, he said, “Playing on [the national] team has been a blessing.”
His Christian perspective is evident as he approaches the upcoming games. “In my faith,” said Bremer, “I am getting out of my comfort zone. It’s been a good journey meeting other people.”
Bremer will be playing forward and/or left defense for the national team in early September. Coach Stuart Sharp and 14 teammates will travel to Houston for training in September and then leave for Rio de Janeiro soon after.
“The atmosphere is going to be crazy,” said Bremer about the upcoming games. “I’m looking forward to meeting the other Paralympians, to medaling, and hopefully getting a spot on the middle podium.”
Bremer’s flight to Rio will only be the second time he has ever left the country, his first time a journey to Spain for the preliminary games. “I pray when I am lonely on the journey,” he said.
U.S. audiences can watch Bremer and his teammates play their first match on September 8. Following matches and other sports will air on NBC September 7-18.
After the games, Bremer plans to continue participating in sport as he has through high school and college. He looks forward to graduating in 2017 from Kalamazoo College where he studies business and economics.