On May 28, 2000 I suffered a traumatic birth which caused a femur fracture and complete spinal cord injury at the T-1 level.
My parents were told that I had no sensation or motor function from my armpits down and that I would be in a wheelchair for life. Understandably, their lives were turned upside down and I know that many of the dreams they had for me were shattered. They spent countless days at doctors appointments with me and traveled to Shriner's hospital many times to learn how to take care of me.
I grew up not knowing that I was different until on one of my birthdays at about age 5, I guess I asked my Mom on which birthday would I be able to walk. I didn't know it, but she cried and her heart broke every time I asked those kinds of questions. They eventually learned that they could still have hopes and dreams for my future......just different ones.
Long story short, I have never let my situation stop me from doing what I want. I tried many sports and really struggled because of my high level of injury.
I accidentally found table tennis and was instantly pretty good at it, so my Mom and Dad quickly got me involved in it as much as they could, until I was discovered by competing at NJDC (Junior Nationals) and referred to Jasna Rather and the USA Para Table Tennis program. It has been one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I have competed in many international tournaments earning silver and bronze medals in singles and in teams.
I am one of a select few to be on the National Team for 2017 and I have been selected for the US Para Junior National Team for the past 5 years. I am currently ranked #3 in the world in my class of disability in juniors and 48 in the world in senior rankings. My ultimate dream is to represent the USA in future Paralympics which will require much more international travel and a huge financial commitment.
My Mom has to travel with me because I cannot manage my care on my own yet, so our trips cost double for airline tickets and entry fees. My parents are also
currently funding my training in which they pay for approximately 5 lessons per week. Unfortunately there is so little funding for disabled athletes like me who want to fulfill their dreams. With your support, you can help me get closer to my dream of representing the USA in the Paralympics.
No donation is too small and every little bit can help relieve my family of a huge financial burden.
Regardless of whether or not you can donate, I hope you are inspired to reach your dreams, no matter what obstacles you might face. Thanks so much for reading my story and please share to spread the word.
P.S......I will be posting updates on upcoming tournaments and results!
Jenson Van Emburgh
USA Paralympic Medal Contender
DonationsSee top donations
- Brenda Ringwald
- Michael Grimm
- Charles Michell
- Chris Jones
- Sean Maxfield