The first time I met Breanna Sprenger it was a Thursday evening in early December. She was getting ready for a swim lesson at the French Creek YMCA in Avon, and I had arranged a meet-and-greet with her and her parents to see if they would be open to a story about her.
At that time, I knew just a bit about her: She was 10, she loved to swim and she was born with no legs and no right arm.
In the crowded recreation center, it was easy to find the Sprengers because everyone — and I mean everyone — knew Breanna. That should have been my first clue that this wasn’t an ordinary story.
“You must be the reporter. I’m Breanna,” she said after I introduced myself. She was looking around me in all directions. “So, where is your photographer? If we are going to do this story, I am going to need lots of pictures.”
I was floored. I wasn’t expecting such a pint-sized charmer. When I told her I would return with a photographer, she excitedly started to talk about the different things she would do for the camera.
Her parents, John and Carrie Sprenger, were not surprised that she was so willing to share her life with our readers. I would later learn they were used to her turning skeptics into believers and nervous strangers into quick friends.
In the month or so after that first meeting, I went to see Breanna swim a number of times, accompanied her to physical therapy and occupational therapy, watched her at cheerleading practice, followed her around school and got the grand tour of her home.
I turned everything I saw it into four stories that will appear starting tomorrow in The Chronicle-Telegram.
Each tells a different part of Breanna’s life from John and Carrie’s realization at an ultrasound appointment that their daughter was not fully formed to Breanna's dreams for the future.
I have not met someone in a long time that has made me walk away with the feeling that I am a better person for having met them. Breanna does that to people because she exudes confidence, determination, spunk and love from every pore of her body.
She is compassionate to other people and grateful for the life God has given her. If she can make everyone smile and learn to love life just a little bit more, than to her, she has done her job.
And, if I have been able to show that in my words, then I have done mine.
Follow Breanna Sprenger on Facebook, Facebook.com/teambreanna. Updates are posted regularly about her goals of becoming a U.S. Paralympic swimmer.
Team Breanna is looking for company sponsorship and/or company and individual donations.
Donations would need to be made out to “Team Breanna” and can be sent to Team Breanna, P.O. Box 422, Avon, OH 44011.
Donations are also accepted at any Huntington Bank. Checks need to be written out to “Team Breanna.”
Team Breanna is holding a fundraiser noon to 8 p.m. Feb. 8 at Coleone’s Pizza, 2424 Ridgeland Drive, Avon. Mention “Team Breanna” and she gets 25 percent of the sales that day.
- Day 1: Coming tomorrow
- Day 2: Coming Monday
- Day 3: Coming Tuesday
- Day 4: Coming Wednesday
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.