Cheri Blauwet began her athletics career in high school, when a track coach recruited her for the team. Born and raised on a farm in Iowa, Cheri’s spinal cord was injured in a farm accident as a young child, and she says her family always encouraged her to see disability as simply another way of living, not as an impairment.
So she began racing for the high school team, and by her sophomore year Blauwet had set records at the state level and begun competing nationally. She combined athletics and academics with great success, studying molecular biology at the University of Arizona, then medicine at Stanford Medical School, while winning seven Paralympic medals throughout her track and field career.
Cheri won a silver (100m) and three bronze medals (200m, 400m, 800m) at the 2000 Paralympic Games in Sydney, and a gold (800m) and two bronze medals (5,000m, marathon) at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens. She also won the New York City Marathon (2003, 2004), the Los Angeles Marathon (2003, 2004, 3005, and 2008), and the Boston Marathon (2004, 2005). In 2004, she also won the Paul Hearne Leadership Award for emerging leaders, given by the American Association of People with Disabilities.
Blauwet just finished her year as the chief resident at Harvard Medical School in the specialty of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. In an interview with the Association of American Medical Colleges, she revealed she’d been interested in medicine from a young age: “From attending the pediatric SCI [spinal cord injury] clinic as a toddler, to popping wheelies in my first wheelchair when I was 5 or 6, to having major orthopedic spine surgery when I was 12, I had already seen it all (good, bad, and ugly) by the time I was a teenager… I began to observe that many health care providers had a hard time understanding that simply because I was a young person with a spinal cord injury, I was not inherently sick or flawed. I was just me, moving around the Earth on wheels instead of on two feet.”
Cheri Blauwet will be attending the London Paralympic Games in a manner that now represents the next chapter of her career: as a member of the International Paralympic Committee’s Medical Committee. Blauwet will be blogging for MEDAL QUEST from the Games.Back To Athletes