Merrick native Steph Hammerman developed cerebral palsy shortly after she was born 23 years ago. But the accomplished athlete and motivational speaker said she doesn’t struggle with anything.
“People have this misconception that just because we are individuals who have to adapt to different circumstances that we automatically suffer from something,” she said of adaptive athletes. “I hope that through my actions, and also my words, I can show other people that anything is possible if you believe in the impossible.”
Hammerman noted that she gets ready and goes to work just like anyone else. According to her employer –– CrossFit, Inc. –– Hammerman is the first woman with cerebral palsy to become a fitness trainer at the company. Her achievements within the CrossFit community and in health and wellness have garnered national attention, as she has been featured on television, and she is now being booked for public-speaking engagements.
Hammerman, who graduated from Kennedy High School in Bellmore in 2008, said living a healthy life became extremely important to her after the loss of one of her best friends, Scott Pollock. Pollock, who died in December 2005, was born without arms. However, Hammerman explained that nothing kept him off the basketball court.
Using his feet to play basketball, Hammerman said Pollock remained active throughout his life while advocating for other adaptive athletes. Now Hammerman said she wants to make a difference for others like he did.
“I told his family I wanted to continue his legacy,” she said. “It was a rough time, but he’ll forever be my inspiration and driving force to move forward.”
Hammerman began going to the gym several times a week. While attending Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., she began working with a personal trainer. Frank Manusky helped Hammerman prepare for her first marathon.
On Dec. 4, 2011, Hammerman completed the 26.2-mile Palm Beach Marathon using a hand cycle. Robin Canarick, Hammerman’s mother, said her family flew down to Florida to watch her cross the finish line.