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Cerebral palsy doesn’t slow down Beloit College runner Aaron Holzmueller

“You would never know that he has a disability.”
Published: Aug. 28, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - “Had there been his event in the Paralympics, would he have qualified for that event?”

“I believe so, yes,” said Beloit College track & field coach and cross country coordinator Brian Bliese.

Evanston native Aaron Holzmueller is a senior track & field and cross country runner at Beloit College. He’s known for setting records for the 400 and 1500 meter runs for his age group in Adaptive Track & Field USA.

This spring, he shattered yet another record in the 800 meter by over a minute, and he didn’t even know it!

“I knew I set a PR,” Holzmueller said. “I didn’t know that it was like a national record or anything like that.”

“The crazy thing when he did that, we didn’t realize that he broke the record because the meet we were at had no fans, spectators, no parents,” Bliese said. “We knew he was on pace running a great time, and we knew as coaches, his time was great.”

Holzmueller runs with cerebral palsy, which affects his ability to move. The cause was a birth brain injury that also developed into epilepsy causing him seizures.

“When I run, I have to exaggerate my arm swing because it helps me balance,” Holzmueller said. “I naturally do that. I don’t even think about it because that’s the way I have to run to make sure I don’t fall.”

Coach Bliese first met this successful athlete when he and his parents walked into Bliese’s office on a recruitment visit when Holzmueller was an incoming freshman.

“I knew immediately that he was special,” Bliese said. “I mean, there was a passion, a spark in his eye. You could tell that running was important to him.”

The Paralympics doesn’t have the 800 meter event just yet, but there’s a possibility the event could get sponsored for the 2024 Paralympics in Paris, but for now, Holzmueller is focused on his cross country season in Beloit.

“He’s got zero ego,” Bliese said. “You would never know that he has a disability. His effort, and his determination and grit, wow.”

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