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Kaitlyn Verfuerth Expresses Gratitude Towards Her Partner On Their ‘Bargaining Journey” To The Paralympic Games

By Kaitlyn Verfuerth | July 15, 2021, 10 a.m. (ET)

Kaitlyn Verfuerth competing at the Paralympic Games Rio 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

 

Dear Greg,

When we met back in 2011, I had been training for the Paralympics in wheelchair tennis. You were in complete awe of my talent and dedication to the sport. You had no idea what you were getting into when you decided to date a Paralympian. While my relationship with you and my love for you comes first, you have also realized and accepted that my passion for competing and training is my life. You have accepted this about me, and let's face it, it has been hard.

For years, I have been on the road – traveling to tournaments and going to training camps. I was gone for months on end, while I chased my dreams of becoming a top wheelchair tennis player and one day winning a medal at the Paralympic Games. You have experienced all the good times, the big matches won and all the laughs on tour. You have also experienced the bad, seeing the blood, sweat and tears I endured through it all.
You have experienced the pain of me losing a tough match that you and I both know, I should have won. You watched me beat myself up time and time again. However, you and I both know I love the fight, day in and day out. After the Paralympic Games Rio 2016, I decided this would be my last rodeo. The last time I would play wheelchair tennis on an international, Paralympic level. I would come home and live a "normal" life. We would work our jobs, love our pugs and spend time with our family and friends, and go about our daily lives.

Who would have thought that I would have fallen in love with a whole new sport? I'll never forget the day when I told you that I was going to fly out to Florida and jump in a kayak and canoe. In Rio, I met the USA Paracanoe coach at the opening ceremonies. Deb invited me out to Florida the following year to see what it was like to paddle a sprint kayak and canoe. I didn't know what I was getting into. I also didn't expect to fall in love with it. You knew that day I left for Florida that I would come back and want to compete. You just knew it and you called it. I came back and I was in love with competing again. I had a new goal, a new dream and a new desire. 

You unwillingly accepted my newfound passion. You fought me for a bit and then you finally gave in. We bargained. "Okay, if you're gone this week to training, then next week you and I are going camping." You slowly accepted the fact that I wanted to go and compete. I realized I needed to make you part of it this time around. Without you, I couldn't get on the water to train. I needed your help to get my boats onto the top of the car and carry them out to the water. It is something that is a bit of a struggle for a person in a wheelchair. As much as I felt bad that I couldn't help, you always reassured me that it made you feel like a man. It was something that you could do for me. 

It isn't just you helping me take the boats in and out of the water; you grew up racing motocross, so you knew about racing. I had never raced before. We talk about strategy, getting out in front first, finding a rhythm and the rush of racing. This time around, we are doing this together. You're involved and I know you love being part of my team. I NEED you to be part of my team because we are a TEAM!

As I write this letter to you today, I realize the sacrifices you make by being with me. We aren't just a "regular" couple. Date nights and hanging out don't always happen. As an athlete, I sacrifice a lot in my life but that also affects your life. You have no idea how much your love and support mean to me. And if I didn't have your blessing in all this, I couldn't do this. I might have forced you to do this for me, but I am beyond grateful that you have accepted me for who I am and what I want out of this life. Your love and support are never overlooked and I will never take them for granted. I cannot do this without you. 

As a little girl, I remember daydreaming about growing up and being with a man just like you. A man that would hold me tight at night, tell me how much they love me, and be by my side no matter what. I am the luckiest woman to have you in my life. Thank you for all your love and support. Thank you for all the sacrifices you have made to be in this with me. Thank you for being you and being my shining star in my life. I can't and won't do this without you.

Let's win that gold baby!

Love always and forever,
Kaitlyn Verfuerth

Kaitlyn Verfuerth

 

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