The unbelievable success story of Jennifer Bricker, the legless girl abandoned by her own parents
She was born with no legs, but it didn’t stop this wonder girl from dreaming her life as a gymnast. Her life story itself is as interesting as an inspirational Hollywood movie script. Jennifer Bricker (born October 1, 1987), an American acrobat and aerialist was abandoned at birth by her biological parents. However, the hands of destiny brought her an amazing adoptive family Sharon and Gerald Bricker. It was for their immense love and affection, disability could never be a constrain for Jennifer Bricker.
Jennifer Bricker was born without legs because of a birth defect. Sharon and Gerald Bricker had three sons before they adopted Jennifer. They raised Jennifer like the way they raised their sons. They never put any limit on her dreams. As a child, Jennifer Bricker always had a passion for tumbling and gymnastics. Being a natural athlete she taught herself to swim and roller-skate on her hands by her own. By the age of 7, Bricker started playing softball and three years later, she took up tumbling followed by Volleyball. She was always ready for challenges which very soon transitioned her into an accomplished acrobat and aerialist.
Jennifer competed in power tumbling for 4 years and also won a state championship in power tumbling. Her sincere hard work and passion led her all the way to the Junior Olympics 1998, where she competed as a power tumbler and placed 4th. She became the only physically challenged person to ever compete professionally in power tumbling. That same year, she received the U.S. Tumbling Association’s Inspiration Award.
Jen Bricker’s entry to Hollywood
After graduating from high school, Bricker moved to Orlando, Florida to work at Disney World. There she was introduced to Nate Crawford, a seasoned acrobat, who coached her in aerial arts while refining her tumbling skills. Her training paid off, and soon she began performing, eventually catching the eye of Britney Spears, who invited her to perform on her world tour.
Her transformation came in steps, first entering the entertainment industry, Jennifer initially dropped 15 lbs. Then the biggest transformation came when she moved to Los Angeles with Crawford, who by then had become her life partner.There, she met trainer Eric Fleishman, who helped her refine her diet and improve her fitness. Jennifer knew that if she wanted to be the best at her field and achieve all her goals, she had to take care of everything she could control, to give herself the best advantage that she could. In Hollywood, the better you look, the more you work. Knowing that image is part of the game and she took her nutrition and fitness to a new level and completely transformed her body.
“Eric showed me that you can truly train your body to do anything you want it to”, Bricker says. “I changed my whole lifestyle-eating, sleeping, exercising.”
Dramatic reunion with her sister Dominique Moceanu
From a very young age, Jennifer Bricker grew up idolizing champion gymnast Dominique Moceanu, who was the part of United States Olympic women’s gymnastics team that won the first ever gold medal for the United States. Raised in a small town in Illinois, Bricker knew she was adopted, but she never knew who her real parents were. Jen’s adoptive parents revealed the truth to her in 2004, when she was 16. She got the biggest shock of her life when she learnt that she is the biological sister of her childhood idol Dominique Moceanu.
I was always going on and on about Dominique, how much we looked alike; how she’s small and of Romanian heritage just like me’, Bricker said.
However it took 4 years for Jennifer to finally reach out to Moceanu by sending her a letter in December 2007. The letter including Jennifer Bricker’s photos and adoptive papers were published in Moceanu’s new memoir ‘Off Balance’. Jennifer wrote to her sister:
Ever since I was about six years old, I’ve been obsessed with gymnastics and I always watched you on TV. You had been my idol my whole life, and you turned out to be my sister! I was in extreme disbelief, and my immediate thought was that I wanted to meet you and let you know. I feel that I have one chance to show you and prove to you that I’m not some crazy person, but I’m sure after seeing all of the papers, you’ll see that I’m serious.
A few weeks later, Jennifer’s phone rang. Dominique Moceanu was on the other end. Jennifer said, ‘I was taken aback. I could not believe I was hearing her voice. We talked for more than 30-40 minutes. I was talking to my childhood-idol-turned-sister! It still blows me away.’ The sisters now share a close bonding and continue to marvel at their similarities.
Bricker also has connected with her biological mother, Camelia Staicu, and holds no ill will toward her. Her father, Dumitru Moceanu, with whom Dominique Moceanu had a tumultuous relationship, died in 2008.
“They didn’t have a lot of money at the time and thought that I’d require a lot of medical bills”, Bricker said. “They thought giving me up for adoption would be the best option, and they were right. I was in a place where I could grow and be nurtured and be with amazing people who loved me. I hit the jackpot on the family end.”
Jennifer Bricker appeared as the star performer at the prestigious Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas, and the Shangri La Hotel in Dubai. Her incredible story has been featured on multiple shows, including HBO Real Sports, 20/20 and Good Morning America.
Jennifer Bricker as a motivational speaker
Currently living in Los Angeles, Jennifer Bricker has added a successful speaking career to her list of accomplishments, including being featured in one of the well-renowned Ted Talks. Bricker continues to perform in aerial arts and hopes to inspire & motivate others to believe that anything in life is truly possible. According to Jennifer life will constantly surprise you if you are open to it and ready to unfold it. What you desire with heart, life will make it possible for you. Jennifer also plans to help out at a sports camp for kids without limbs.
Someday in the near future, Jennifer may be using her role-model status to empower children with disabilities by providing an animated character they can relate to. Artists behind the popular “My Little Pony” cartoon created, in Jen’s likeness, “Smilez”. She said, “It’s really cool seeing yourself as a pony.”
Jennifer Bricker is also an advocate for the Adoption Network. The Adoption Network was instrumental in helping Jennifer Bricker reconnect with her biological siblings who she now shares mutually fulfilling relationships with. Recently Jennifer and her biological sister, Dominique Moceanu, were Keynote Speakers for the Adoption Network Conference in Cleveland, Ohio.
Jennifer Bricker says “I believe God wants to use me as an example to move people in a profound way.”
Jennifer Bricker’s extraordinary personality strongly influences us to believe in the power of mind. She is a leading example of human will-power. Her heroic journey will definitely inspire the people worldwide to believe that every human being is the creator of his own destiny.