Well-known acrobat and aerialist Jennifer Bricker believes “everything is possible” — a sentiment she’s proven time and again throughout her life.
Bricker, 29, was born without legs, but has defied the odds and become an international inspiration, codifying her personal story in a new book titled, “Everything Is Possible: Finding the Faith and Courage to Follow Your Dreams.”
“I’ve known since I was a kid that I was going to eventually write a book — I just didn’t know the timing,” she recently told “The Church Boys” podcast, saying she felt God calling her to finally write a book around two years ago. “I don’t ever want it to be just for the motivation, driven for myself, my personal gain.”
— Jen Bricker (@JenBricker1) November 2, 2016
Instead, Bricker was motivated by a quest to “touch the lives of millions,” as she had come to a place in her life where she felt she could openly talk about some of her own personal struggles.
Among the more prevalent stories involving Bricker to have emerged in recent years was her shocking discovery as a teenager that famed gymnast and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Dominique Moceanu is actually her biological sister.
Bricker told “The Church Boys” she always knew she was adopted and had an open dialogue with her adoptive parents about the process. But she didn’t learn until her teen years that her biological name would have been Moceanu, and it didn’t take long for her to realize she was related to the gymnast — a revelation that was stunning to everyone involved.
After a four-year journey of trying to connect with her siblings, Bricker was finally united with her two biological sisters in 2008. Listen to her share her story at the 57-minute mark below:
“At first … they were not happy with their parents,” Bricker said of her sisters’ reaction to learning their baby sister had been put up for adoption. “They eventually forgave them and stuff and came to that reconciliation, and as much as we all would have loved to have been raised together, that was an abusive household.”
She continued, “I was much better off not being in the family, and I needed to be raised somewhere else.”
— Jen Bricker (@JenBricker1) October 31, 2016
As for Moceanu, the gymnast wrote about her own shock at finding out about Bricker’s existence in her 2012 memoir, saying she immediately felt intense anger over the fact she was so in the dark.
“It was the biggest bombshell of my life. Rage was my first emotion, had my life been a lie?” she told ABC News back in 2012. “I had this sister that was born who was given up for adoption, and I never knew it.”
But while Moceanu experienced troubles with her parents, Bricker had a much more positive upbringing after being adopted at birth, describing her early years in a small town in Illinois as quite happy; it was an experience that she believes prepared her to become the person she is today.
“I was put in the family I was meant to be in, in the community I was meant to be in,” Bricker explained. “Thankfully, my story does not involve bullying.”
Growing up in a small town meant going to a small school where she knew her peers from kindergarten through high school graduation. Her friends knew she was born without legs, so it was never really a factor for her. And, interestingly, Bricker said she was so mainstreamed that she never really thought twice about her disability.
“I was always very outgoing, very fiery, very kind of bold. That’s just who I was and still am,” she said. “I was so mainstreamed in every part of my life, and my parents were just (always saying), ‘You’re awesome, you’re strong … you’re beautiful, you’re an answer to prayer, we want you.'”
— Jen Bricker (@JenBricker1) October 18, 2016
Bricker said she had no idea how significant it was for her to partake in sports and activities like basketball, softball, volleyball, and roller skating, among others, saying she routinely competed with “able-bodied athletes” without prosthetics or a wheelchair — and without any real barriers. She said, “I just didn’t get the significance of it.”
Naturally, many people have looked at Bricker as an inspiration, though she said she found that sentiment annoying as a kid.
“I didn’t get it and now it’s a gift to be able to be an inspiration,” she said, calling it “humbling” to be held in such a regard. “But I still don’t see myself as that person … I’m just Jen.”
Today, Bricker is a successful acrobat and aerialist who has toured the world, perhaps most notably as a fixture on one of pop star Britney Spears’ performance tours. Looking back on her life, she said she’s amazed.
— Hunter Allen (@hunterallenart) October 3, 2016
“I do trip out on how my life was designed — how I was created,” she said. “All of these things that were specifically on purpose, and had to be that way. … I had to have that childhood, so that I could be who I am.”
Bricker said she’s grateful for the life she’s had, and that there’s something beautiful about each individual loving and celebrating the person he or she was meant to be — and that’s just one of the messages she’s hoping to drive home through her new book.
“We all have gifts and talents that are unique to us and are made for us specifically,” she said. “And that is so powerful. Every single person and what they bring to the table is equal in significance.”
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