Two Grand Rapids area athletes, Andrew Bremer (pictured) and Michelle Woodring, are in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to compete in the 2016 Paralympic Games which get underway tomorrow.

Bremer played three season of varsity soccer at East Grand Rapids High School, and is currently playing at Kalamazoo College. The 20 year old will play for the USA 7-man team which kicks off action against the Netherlands in pool play Thursday.

Bremer has played soccer at a high level his whole life, and rarely let it be known that he had cerebral palsy. "I kept it under the radar," Bremer told earlier this year. "I didn't try and make a big deal out of it. I just wanted to play."

CP has made him stronger on his left side, earning the nickname 'NASCAR' for his tendency to always turn left. The nickname, which alludes to his CP, was never meant as an insult, but instead a tribute to his tenaciousness.

He made the US Paralympic soccer team this summer following several strong international outings with the team.

“I really love playing soccer, and this opportunity was really an honor I just appreciated so much,” Bremer told the Kalamzoo Index about making the team.

Woodring is participating in the games for a different reason. She is not disabled herself, but instead pilots tandem bicycles for visually impaired riders. She will be teamed with Shawn Cheshire from Camillus, New York. They have been competing as a team for about three years.

Cheshire lost her eye sight in a freak accident while working as a paramedic in her hometown. She slipped in the ice while on an accident scene, hitting her head. It was afriend who introduced her to blind cycling after she fell into a funk following the accident.

"I was angry because of what happened,'' she told "I had a pretty crappy attitude."


Woodring was an excellent choice for a partner, the Lowell resident is a decorated cyclist, a former world champion and world record holder, Mackenzie has been a tandem pilot for the national team since 2008. She has won gold, silver and bronze in the Beijing Paralympics in 2008.

Shawn and Mackenzie are the current national champions in the Blind & Visually Impaired (B&VI) road race and time trial.

Individually, Michelle professionally races cyclocross and mountain bikes for Foundry Cycles.

The team is sponsored locally by the Grand Rapids Bicycle Company you can follow thie exploits on their Facebook page.