Two Iowans are realizing their paralympic dreams

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 10:13 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Jessica Heims of Swisher and Erin Kerkhoff of Solon never let their disabilities get in the way of their dreams.

Heims has been working for a long time. She was born with a partial foot, called amniotic banding, which she had amputated as a toddler. This is her second time making the Paralympics team after competing in Rio.

“Five years ago now I was a young wee little one and I had some level of confidence, but now I’m so much more sure of myself as a person and as an athlete,” Heims said, “I can go into (these games) with an expectation, and actually attempt a medal and not just go thinking, ‘oh my gosh I’m here I’m freaking out.’”

Heims is certainly not just at the olympics to compete, she’s there to win. She already holds the U.S. record for the F64 discus at 112 feet 10 inches. F64 is the category for below-the-knee amputees.

She’ll be competing on Saturday night at 8:15 pm Iowa time.

Her teammate at the University of Northern Iowa Erin Kerkoff was a star at Solon High School, and will run the women’s 100m and 400m in Tokyo. She’s legally blind.

“When I heard my name on the roster I just, I got butterflies, I was just I was really happy I made the team,” Kerkhoff said, “I never even dreamed or thought about going to Tokyo and now it’s just crazy.”

Kerkoff’s heats start on Monday August, 31st at 8:30 pm Iowa time and on Thursday, September 2nd at 7:30 pm Iowa time.

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