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Teen runner makes headlines as she pushes wheelchair-bound older brother during race in order to compete together
Image source: KARE-TV video screenshot

Teen runner makes headlines as she pushes wheelchair-bound older brother during race in order to compete together

Fourteen-year-old Susan Bergeman pushed her 15-year-old wheelchair-bound brother Jeffrey while the two competed in a high school cross country race.

What are the details?

Wisconsin teen Susan has an unbreakable bond with her brother, Jeffrey, according to KARE-TV.

When he was just shy of 2 years old, Jeffrey suffered a cardiac arrest that deprived his brain of oxygen for 20 minutes.

Though lucky to have survived the event, he was left with severe brain damage and cerebral palsy.

"He loves running," Susan told KARE of her brother. "I think it helps me get even closer to my brother."

In order for the two to compete together during a 3.1-mile run for the school's cross country team, Susan pushed Jeffrey as she ran the course.

Their mother, Jess Bergeman, told the station that her two children have always been incredibly close.

"They've always had this very close relationship, and she's never really seen him any other way," she explained. "They've grown up together and this has always been her normal."

Running also seems to be a family affair for the Bergemans: Jess and her husband both previously competed as distance runners and pushed Jeffrey — who is nonverbal — along in their own races.

When Susan decided to try pushing her brother herself, Jess cautioned her daughter to take it easy.

“And she looked at me as if I had grown two heads," Jess recalled. "She's like, 'This is not an option, we're doing it.' I was so proud of her."

Susan added, "I'm a very competitive person, so I almost feel like I have a point to prove."

Despite pushing her brother in his wheelchair, Susan ran the 3.1 mile race in just under 34 minutes.

Though Susan and Jeffrey made a heartwarming team, their score unfortunately was not logged or counted like that of other competitive runners under the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association's guidelines.

KARE reported that the Bergemans' coach and parents are lobbying to change the rules, and hope a duo division will one day be a reality.

"We'd love to see the day where people aren't like, 'That's different.' It's just normal," said Jordan Bergeman, Susan and Jeffrey's father.

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