Jennifer Bricker: Everything is Possible

Jennifer Bricker is an American gymnast and aerialist. As a teenager she was the junior state champion in tumbling for the State of Illinois, later going on to travel the world performing as an acrobat, even performing with Britney Spears in her ‘Circus’ tour. She is certainly a high flyer, having not only performed all over the world but also works as a motivational speaker, speaking to audiences in the thousands. Jennifer has also written a best selling memoir entitled “Everything is Possible”. To do all this she just had to jump one hurdle; she was born without legs.

Jennifer was born in 1987 to Romanian parents. She was born with not one but two birth defects; she was born with no legs (congenital amputation) and with her heart on the wrong side of her chest (dextrocardia.) Dextrocardia often doesn’t cause many complications and children born with this condition more often than not go on to live very normal lives. Seeing their child born without legs however greatly shocked her biological parents, and she was left at the hospital. Jennifer was adopted three months later by her parents in Illinois. Given all she has achieved it seems hard to believe that her parents were told she would likely never even sit up on her own, let alone achieve greatness. Her parents quickly sought out a second opinion and the first question her father asked was, will she be able to sit up on her own? The doctor was correct when he said she would accomplish things beyond their wildest dreams.

Jennifer showed her determined and independent spirit from the start, helped by her family’s one rule, never say “can’t”. Climbing trees was a favourite pastime, as was playing baseball and basketball. What has been constant from preschool to present day however is her obsession with gymnastics. Despite her short stature her mother found a coach who was willing to help her, and she was soon learning acrobatic moves on the trampoline in her back garden. As a teen she began competing and soon became state champion, competing and winning against able-bodied athletes.

When she was 19 she moved to Orlando. Her plan was to go to fashion school but when she started working at Disney and saw the amazing performances given by the acrobats she was mesmerised. She started performing in 2008, working as an aerialist. Her lack of legs worked in her favour, as whilst she was extremely strong, she was also very light, making her and her partner capable of doing things that other artists weren’t. She has performed in 14 different countries, and in 2009 she performed as part of Britney Spears’ “Circus” troupe. Jennifer has overcome odds that were rather highly stacked against her to achieve what she has. The physics of gymnastics traditionally relies heavily on the strength of one’s legs, potential energy loading up in the quads and hamstrings when one squats or runs in preparation for a manoeuvre. With Jennifer this strength comes from her arms and core. Though she uses a wheelchair to avoid getting dirty, she can happily propel herself using just her arms should she wish.

Jennifer’s book “Everything is Possible” details her story and outlines the success she has achieved. She credits her determination and her attitude towards life for this success. She says she was raised in a household  that never held her back, and because of this she and her family didn’t allow her lack of legs to stop her taking part in the activities she loves.