Judy Siegle :: Article


As a representative for Wheels for the World, Judy Siegle works to collect and restore used wheelchairs.

The Lutheran
September 2006
Jeff Favre

When Judy Siegle awoke one August day in 1979, her life changed in ways hard to imagine. It took the 18-year old a few weeks to realize the enormity of what had happened. A car accident left her an "incomplete quadriplegic," meaning she had suffered severe spinal cord damage that kept many muscles in her arms and legs from moving.

The former all-conference high-school basketball player would now get around in a wheelchair. Athletics, which had been a big part of her life, appeared to be over.

But Siegle had other ideas. Eventually she became one of the world's elite wheelchair racers and competed in the 1996 Paralympics in Atlanta and the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, Australia, as well as winning two gold medals in the 1999 Mexico City PanAm Games. She was named the 2000 Female Athlete of the Year by USA Wheelchair Track and Field.

But racing is only part of her accomplishments. The member of Hope Lutheran Church, Fargo, N.D., is a state representative for Wheels for the World, which provides wheelchairs for those in need (www.joniandfriends.org/pg_wheelchair.php). She has helped collect more than 500 chairs that are restored and sent to people globally.

Siegle also is a motivational speaker who wrote "Living Without Limits," which is geared toward helping people overcome personal challenges of all kinds (www.judysiegle.com). "I want people to know when you're going with Christ, we have life abundant, or as I like to say, ‘Life to the max,' even if we may be limited by our bodies," she said.

Siegle didn't return to sports for 12 years after her accident. She then joined a quad rugby team called the North Dakota Wallbangers. "I was the only woman on the team," she said. "I was the last one off the bench, and we didn't really even have a bench. But I was so thrilled to be back in sports again. And then I learned about racing. To be out there on the road with runners was such a joy. I thought those days were done."

Siegle hopes her life can serve as an example that everyone can find purpose and joy in their lives. "God continues to work in ways I can't always see," she said. "I had no idea at 18 that this is where I would be. But through it all, my faith in Christ has brought me power and peace."

Copyright 2011-2013 Judy Siegle || Site design by Glory Dawn Design