Cerebral palsy is a disease that affects an individual’s body movement and muscle coordination, making it difficult to do everyday activities. However, it hasn’t stopped one Calvin student athlete from doing what he loves: run.

Freshman Simon Detmer, a native of Chicago and graduate of Timothy Christian High School, has right-side hemiplegia, which causes the right side of his body to have muscle weakness, coordination weakness, and partial paralysis.

Detmer began running in high school. “When I joined high school, I came from a family line of runners, so I wanted run. A few weeks into high school though—I think it was my third race in my career—I fractured my fibula, so that was pretty discouraging,” he said. “However, I just felt like the Lord never told me to stop. I ran all four years of high school, cross country and track. Unfortunately, I was injured all four years, but I was able to make the Illinois State Championships senior year and scored for our team, which was really a blessing.”

Last spring, Detmer had the opportunity to compete at the Paralympics, a major international multi-sport event that involves athletes who have a range of disabilities.

“Earlier my family heard about the Paralympics from friends, and they said maybe Simon is fast enough. So, senior year we got in contact with the Paralympics committee; they got me hooked up with coaches in the Midwest and I was able to meet the recruiter for the U.S. Paralympics and that was really a blessing,” he said.

Detmer competed in the 200- and 400-meter run at the Paralympics. “I was able to run with people running on blades, blind people, everything. It was probably the most amazing running experience I have ever had,” he said. Detmer was also named an All-American.

This past fall, Detmer was coming off a broken foot from summer training and was unable to compete in cross country. Simon didn’t let his injury stop him from training. He biked, worked out on the elliptical, did light treadmill running, and lifted weights. Very satisfied with where he is now, he was able to complete Calvin’s indoor track season and is enjoying being a Knight. “When I came here, I really felt like this is where the Lord was calling me because the people not only were amazingly talented at running, but I appreciated the character that the coaches and the teammates have. Christ’s love just radiates from them, and I really feel like I’m part of their family.”

Cross country coach and distance track coach Brian Diemer is very impressed with Detmer’s outlook on running and on life in general. “He doesn’t let small or even major things set himself back and tell him he can’t do something,” he said. “Simon brings something special to the table. He brings a positive outlook on everything. He gives everything he has, and our guys see that and learn from it.”