The UW-Eau Claire wrestling team added a new member to its roster Monday afternoon when Samuel Sedelbauer signed his Letter of Intent to join the Blugolds.
On a team filled with giants, Sedelbauer is a little different. At just nine years old, he’s smaller than all of his teammates. But what he lacks in size, he makes up for with his attitude, according to Blugolds wrestling head coach Tim Fader.
“We like his smile,” Fader said. “We like his spirit and what he’s going to bring to our group. … We’re excited to have him as part of the team and what the year is going to bring.”
Sedelbauer was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a disease that effects approximately 1 in 3,500 male births worldwide, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders.
“It effects every muscle in his body,” Samuel’s father, Gary Sedelbauer, said. “Walking can be a challenge if you have to walk long distances.”
Sedelbauer is still in very good shape for his age. He undergoes regular treatment for his disease and does daily stretches to keep his muscles relatively healthy.
“Most kids at his age are in a wheelchair,” Gary said. “We just pray, we’ve got people praying for him. It’s a prayer that he’s still mobile.”
Unable to participate in most other sports, the Sedelbauer family partnered with Team IMPACT, a non-profit organization that helps children with serious and chronic illnesses. The organization pairs children with local collegiate athletics program and matching Samuel with the Blugolds wrestling team seemed like an ideal match.
“I just think it’s great to be with a bunch of collegiate wrestlers,” Gary said. “I think he’s going to build some lifelong memories here.”
Samuel has plenty of wrestling experience from horsing around at home with his older brother, according to his mother, Betsy Sedelbauer. Now Samuel should get even better as he’s already begun working out with the team and has started to perfect perfect his wrestling stance.
Though he won’t be competing for the Blugolds on the mats, Samuel will be an important teammate for the Blugold wrestlers, helping them at both practices and home tournaments.
“It’s awesome,” junior wrestler James Huntley said. “It’ll be cool to see him at our home duels. You’ll see him sitting right there beside the mat.”
Joining the team is just another way for Samuel to get involved in the community and show his strength to those around him.
“He’ll touch more lives with his disease, believe it or not, than if he didn’t have his disease,” Gary said.