“I’m a Lutheran” is a monthly profile featuring ELCA members around the world. The profiles showcase ELCA members in all their diversity, connecting one another through individual faith stories as Lutherans. Sentence prompts are provided to each person featured. If you’d like to nominate someone for “I’m a Lutheran,” email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congregation: Christus Rex Lutheran Campus Center, Grand Forks, N.D.
Occupation: Custodian at Grand Forks Air Force Base
Special Olympics National and World Games competitions:
2015 World Games in Los Angeles: 4×400 relay, 5,000-meter run, 10,000-meter run. Gold medalist in 4×400 relay.
2014 USA National Games in New Jersey: Unified soccer, bronze medalist.
2010 USA National Games in Omaha, Neb.: Unified soccer, bronze medalist.
2009 World Games in Idaho: Alpine skiing, gold medalist.
My first experience with church was in 2005. I felt very accepted at Christus Rex and everyone was very nice to me.
To me, church is a place where you get accepted for who you are. You meet friends, you sing and pray.
I believe God is important. I believe you can do anything you work toward.
My favorite part of competing in the 2015 Special Olympics World Games was meeting people from all over the world. A lot of my friends and I still talk on the phone or FaceTime with each other. And, of course, one of my favorite parts was winning the gold
medal and breaking the Special Olympics world record.
I pray most days. I pray with family. I pray for my mom who passed away in 1997. I also pray for my best friend who passed away last year.
I share my faith by being a good brother and doing my part in the family. I also like to help out at the church a lot. I live how God wants me to and I always try to do the right things.
To keep calm and focused before competing, I dedicate winning the race to my mom and my best friend. I tell myself to do my best and I get focused in my head.
If I could change anything, nobody would call people retards. I really don’t like to be called a retard; that is very mean.
Most people think people with disabilities can’t do things, but I am pretty good at a lot of things.
People are surprised that I run marathons and can place in the top 10. People are also surprised I have worked at my job for 10 years.
My advice to other athletes is to practice hard and never give up.
I’m a Lutheran because I feel like I fit in at my church and everyone understands me. I don’t feel different. It’s a community of friendships, God’s word and singing. It’s a place that makes me happy to go to and I think that is what being Lutheran is about.