Because I Can.....Be Fueled By Faith Jeffrey Bergeman's Story as told by his mother - Jess
Jeffrey Bergeman, was born healthy and progressed typically into toddlerhood. He had a rambunctious spirit and an unrestrained taste for adventure. On May 24th, 2008, at the age of 22 months, Jeffrey suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. Though paramedics responded quickly, his heart arrested twice more and the resulting resuscitation efforts were lengthy. He experienced prolonged oxygen deprivation lasting between 8 to 20 minutes before adequate oxygen to his brain and sustainable heart rhythms were restored. The damage to his brain was irreversible, and he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy in addition to a long list of other new diagnoses related to the global brain damage he sustained. Learning how to care for Jeffrey was a huge adjustment for our family, but over the years we have conquered those seemingly insurmountable challenges and eventually were brave enough to start seeking out "normal" activities that we could do as a family.
Jeffrey is wheelchair bound and non-verbal. Though he cannot speak with words we do have a system of "yes/no" communication with him through intentional head turning and eye gaze. Through this communication we learned some pretty amazing things about our son. He lost a number of things when his heart stopped beating, but one thing he never lost was his sense of adventure! It turns out that Jeffrey LOVES racing in running events and he even told us of some pretty ambitious goals he has for himself within the arena of endurance athletics.
Last year his father and I helped him become a first-time marathoner; and in short order we turned around and helped him achieve the title of "Marathon Maniac" (an official group of athletes who submit proof of completion of two marathons completed within 16 days of each other!) So far this year he has added titles such as Triathlete and Ragnarian to his list. He was the only athlete in a wheelchair to complete 22 of the 36 legs of the 2017 Madison-to-Chicago Ragnar; rolling for a total of 120 miles over the course of a non-stop 32 hour relay race.
Our entire family enjoys participating in these events not just for Jeffrey, but because we believe strongly in the value of inclusion. We have seen the beauty and benefit of including athletes and individuals with complex medical needs in local community events and we want others to be inspired to participate as well.
If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be out racing. Here's a guy that from day to day has more to complain about than anybody I know, and yet he's the most happiest, most positive guy I know. When I saw how much he loves it, I thought why not be the legs for him. ~Jordan Bergeman
Jeffrey's family chose Brighton Their World for proceeds to benefit during his story!
March 2018 Update from Mom - Jess: Jeffrey has been rocking his new role as an official middle schooler this year! He took on a new school, with all new teachers and staff and basically makes 6th grade look awesome! He has thankfully managed to stay healthy through the winter which makes the upcoming Spring racing season all the more exciting! He and Dad are on track for meeting their goal of running a Boston Qualifying time at the Eau Claire Marathon on May 6th. This is the first big race planned for the season, and what all of the winter training miles have been for! Jeffrey has two main athletic goals--1) to qualify for Boston, and 2) to complete an Ironman. We are currently working with the Ironman event series organizers for Ironman Wisconsin to try to convince them to waive their usual participant age restrictions so that Jeffrey can accomplish his goals since we do not know what his life expectancy will be we want to help him achieve these things sooner rather than later. Other big news for our little Ironman is that in addition to his eye gaze communication computer-whom we call Jarvis- we are looking to add another superhero to the team as he is applying to receive his very own service dog! We sure hope this furry hero likes to run, because Jeffrey doesn't let anything slow him down!