Siegle shares story of hope
Published 3:11 pm Sunday, August 21, 2005
By By MICHELE GERLACH-Publisher
Judy Siegle came to Brewton with a message for those facing the challenges of life not turning out the way they planned: God provides the support tools necessary to live life fully, if differently.
Siegle is an authority on her subject.
She was an 18-year-old high school graduate headed to Concordia College with a dream of playing college basketball when a drunk driver sped through a stop sign, crashing into her car. Siegle's neck was broken in the accident; she was paralyzed.
Her recovery began with a six-month hospital stay, that delayed her entry into college. The basketball dream was now impossible.
But Siegle didn't give up. The next fall she went to Concordia College, declining an opportunity to live in quarters adapted for this with disabilities, choosing the full experience of the freshman dorm.
She earned a degree in speech communication and began pursuing speech therapy in graduate school. After a year, she realized it wasn't for her and chose social work instead. The choice afforded her the opportunity to work with the whole person and the family in a medical setting.
The daughter of an educator and coach, Siegle was always in athletics in high school. She continued to train after her accident, spending two summers of her college years at home with her father, training full time.
The hard work has paid off in many ways. First, she says, she is an unusual quadraplegic in that she regained use of her left arm and some use of her right arm. She uses a chair most of the time, but walks in her home.
About 12 years after her accident, she learned about wheelchair raises. She was thrilled to compete again. She traveled with her team, and came within four seconds of breaking a world record while competing in Leesburg, Va. That's when someone suggested she compete in the Paralympics, the second largest sporting event in the world.
She worked with her employer, a Fargo, N.D., hospital, to alter her work schedule, allowing her to become an Olympic competitor. The hospital became a Paralympic sponsor.
Siegle competed in the games in Atlanta in 1996 and in Sydney, Australia, in 2000, breaking world records along the way.
During this time, she had done speaking engagements in her region. Just prior to the Sydney games, she began working the national speakers' circuit.
As a speaker and as a writer – her new book, "Living Without Limits, 10 Keys to Unlocking The Champion Within You," will be released in September – she shares the tools God gave her to move forward in love.
Siegle did a special program for women at First Baptist Church of Brewton last night (Saturday).