Katie Sigmond is a true representation of resilience and determination. Diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a young child, she was told she would never walk unassisted. Yet, Katie never let her disability define her — instead, she has risen and achieved incredible feats throughout her significant career, both as a Paralympian and advocate for disability rights.
As the daughter of a Naval officer, Katie traveled the world before returning to the United States at just 12 years old. Though only a child, she was already determined to make a difference — hosting lemonade stands and fund raisers to help disabled veterans. By the time she graduates from high school, she was a state-level swimmer and painter.
In 1992, Katie applied for and was accepted into the US Olympic Trials. Though initially denied, Katie won the court case to prove all Paralympians should have equal access and the opportunity to compete in the Olympic trials.
Over the course of her impressive and decorated career, Katie has gone on to become a Paralympic medalist, three-time US Swimming National Champion, five-time Pan Pacific Championship gold medalist, and a four-time World Record holder — winning numerous awards along the way.
However, Katie’s accomplishments go beyond her athletic achievements. She has become a leader in the disability rights movement, advocating for the rights of disabled people both internationally and domestically. She has spoken before the House of Representatives and the United Nations, lobbied on Capitol Hill, and conducted workshops on college campuses throughout the country.
In addition to her activism and career in competitive swimming, Katie has also become a successful entrepreneur — launching the start-up, “Ability Impact”, which seeks to empower those living with disabilities by offering services that assist with the challenges they face in life.
Katie’s indefatigable spirit and tireless efforts to strive for success — despite any obstacles or limitations — should serve as an inspiration for us all. As she once said, “You’re never given a dream without the power to make it come true,” and her incredible accomplishments demonstrate this sentiment flawlessly.
Along with many others, Katie Sigmond has done her part to greater inclusion and social justice by consistently emphasizing the need for an equal playing field for people with disabilities. Her story is a testament to the fact that anything is possible with the right mindset, hard work, and dedication — values she carries with her every day.
Katie’s story of incredibly hard work and dedication, both as a Paralympian and an advocate for disability rights, should continue to inspire people everywhere—especially those with disabilities– demonstrated that even the highest level of success can be achievable. By drawing upon Katie’s personal history and stories, we can promote a world where everyone, regardless of ability, has access to the same opportunities and aspirations.