Bosnian Immigrant Hermin Garic’s Amazing Story And Tremendous Success
He lost the use of his legs when he was just four years old. Interestingly, it wasn’t the grenade explosion that shot shrapnel into his back which cost him the use of his legs, it was the ambulance taking him to the hospital which hit a ‘bump’ and crashed into a lake, causing a severe spinal cord injury.
Hermin Garic suffered his injury during the war in Bosnia. While some family was already in the United States, he and his parents didn’t make the trip until 2000. You wouldn’t know it though, because he has virtually no accent. Maybe he can thank Big Bird and The Count for that, considering he credits Sesame Street with teaching him to speak English.
”I learned to count to about 20 or so [in English], when I was six years old, without any schools,” Garic said. ”The schools weren’t really adapted to kids in wheelchairs over there where I was at.”
In the US, and in Utica, Garic has built quite a reputation as an athlete with the Sitrin STARS adaptive sports program, and a competitor in the Boilermaker 15k Road Race.
While he races on wheels, keep in mind those wheels are powered by his arms. When others train with him – who are not in chairs – they have to do so on a bicycle, because ”there’s no way they can keep up on legs”, he says. His regimen includes daily trek’s of 30 or more miles, all powered by his legs and hands. Athletic tape over his fingers spares him major cuts and huge blisters.
And its paying off. At the age of 15, he won a racing wheelchair with a 15k time of just over one hour and fifteen minutes in a standard wheelchair. That was almost an hour faster than he needed to earn the racing chair.
In 2012, at the age of 22, Garic finished second in the Boilermaker wheelchair division, with a time of 38:07. In other words, faster than any able bodied runner has ever finished the race.
Listen to Garic tell his story in his own words: