Student competes on U.S. Deaf Swim team

Posted May 19, 2011

Jessica Weeden, a freshman psychology major at Abilene Christian University, won't let deafness come between her and her dreams. Far from it: she is not only excelling in her classes without the aid of an interpreter and serving as undergraduate research assistant in ACU's College of Business Administration, she is also inspiring others with her athleticism and resolve.

Weeden competesfor the U.S. Deaf Sports swim team. She qualified for the World Deaf Swimming Championships six months ago. In August, she will compete for the United States at the World Championships in Portugal. She has been training on her own at the YMCA to prepare for the event.

Weeden previously swam at the World Championships in 2007 and at the Deaflympics in 2009.

"Jess is a disciplined young woman with tremendous talent and incredible tenacity. Beyond that, she is gifted with a passion to excel," says Dr. Rick Lytle, dean of COBA. "She reminds me of my own parents, who are deaf – of their courage, talent and drive."

Lytle and Dan Garrett, vice chancellor of ACU and president of The ACU Foundation, are inspired by Weeden's spirit, and they are leading the effort to raise the additional $2,500 she needs to swim for the U.S. in Portugal.

Already, Garrett and Lytle have donated to her cause and started reaching out to local business leaders such as First Financial Bank, Lauren Engineers, and Autogas to seek funds.

To learn more about how to contribute to Weeden's Portugal trip, call 800-979-1906 or 325-674-2508. Direct questions and inquiries to Dan Garrett or Debbie Stewart, administrative assistant for The ACU Foundation.