Gase competes in the Para Pan-Am Games in Peru

Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 1:00 PM EDT
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Abby Gase has eight years of experience swimming in the pool and now has nice collection of medals after competing in in the Para Pan-Am Games in Lima, Peru.

"It was an awesome experience," Gase said. "It was my first big international team with the team and being able to medal in five of my six events was a huge deal."

One could say it is a huge deal Abby is even here swimming.

"Wow, she's really doing this," Abby's mom Mary Gase said. "She can barely walk, she shouldn't be able to walk - medically speaking. And we're traveling to Peru to watch her swim."

When Gase was four years old, she got sick with pneumonia.

"The antibodies in my system fought so hard it attacked my spinal cord and left legions on the spine which then caused paralysis," Abby Gase said. "It's called transverse myelitis. It's super rare."

Abby has no use in her left leg and her right leg from her hip to her knee has little function. That means all that power in the pool comes from her upper body.

The junior at Otsego High School fell into a spot on the Para Pan-Am team because of a decades-old political conflict between Malaysia and Israel. Malaysia was set to host the world Para Swimming Championships last month, but would not allow Israeli swimmers into the country.

The International Para Olympic committee was not happy with this decision so it moved the world championships to London. Because of the timing near the Pan-Am event, the United States team needed swimmers for Peru.

"Other than making it to like Tokyo next year - which is one of my goals - I'd also like to try to get adaptive swimming at the state level with the OHSAA," Abby Gase said. "Some other states have it."

But for now, Abby and her family are trying to enjoy the moment.

That includes a firetruck parade through Tontogany when she arrived home plus plenty of support from Otsego schools - especially from district Superintendent Adam Koch.

"(Koch) texted me and said, 'It was crazy, I was watching in my office and I could hear the school erupt," Mary Gase said. "That was pretty cool that everybody was watching and he could hear them all screaming through the school."

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