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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Cherokee Citizen Powers Through His Limitations
by Wesley Mahan Cherokee Phoenix
LAWRENCE, KS – One special Cherokee Nation citizen will be traveling in 2011 to the birthplace of Olympic competition – Athens, Greece.

Brady Tanner, of Lawrence, will be competing for Team USA in powerlifting at the World Special Olympic Games in Athens. Brady has Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome, which delays mental growth, impairs speech and classifies him as trainable mentally handicapped. However, his lust for life and happy-go-lucky attitude is contagious.

Tanner didn’t get started in serious competition until age 21. His father Gary was the head football coach at Haskell Indian Nations University for 14 years. A player from his father’s last recruiting class was a powerlifter and had trained individuals in powerlifting for the Special Olympics. The player took Brady under his wing and trained him.

Tanner was hooked and has been lifting ever since. The 30-year-old has added more than 100 pounds to his frame since he began lifting.

Tanner’s first competition was with Special Olympics and resulted in a gold medal. He lifted alone until two years ago when his success and enthusiasm drew interest from other athletes in the area who joined him.

He was greeted with immediate success in competition and has never lost a regional or state meet, winning every one since 2000. In 2006, he took part in his first Special Olympics National Games where he won gold medals in the bench press and deadlift. He had to settle for a bronze in the squat, but torn cartilage in his knee was thought to be the problem.

Tanner has also inspired other powerlifting organizations to add a Special Olympic category to their roster when he joined. The Natural Athletic Strength Association named Tanner its 2008 National Courage Award recipient and 2009 Athlete of the Year. He is also the group’s Powerlifting and Power Sport National Champion.

The World Association of Bench and Deadlifters also recognized him as their World Champion for 2003-05 and 2007-09. He also received its Outstanding Lifter Award in 2003-05 and 2007.

Tanner earns everything through hard work and dedication. He spends four days a week in the gym putting in around two hours per workout. That hard work allows him to lift 415 pounds in the bench press, 625 in the squat, and 575 in the deadlift.

Powerlifting is not the only sport the 5-foot-7-inch fireball turns heads in. He also has a gold medal in basketball and a silver in cheerleading. He doesn’t stop there as he competes in soccer, volleyball, softball and track and field.

When away from competition, he doesn’t slow down. He has served as the ball boy for the Haskell football team for 21 years, along with being a special student there. And he has worked at one of the cafeteria dorms for 10 years at Kansas University.

If you would like to help Brady reach his goal of four gold medals in Athens, an account has been set up for fundraising at the Douglas County Bank in Lawrence.

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