Jack Eherenman: heaven on wheels - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Jack Eherenman: heaven on wheels

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by Sunny Layne

CEDAR FALLS (KWWL) -- With Father's Day recently, we recognize that there are many outstanding dads in eastern Iowa. Meet one who decided to take inspiration from his own sons, and use it to improve the lives of dozens and dozens of teens with special needs without turning anyone away.

Meet Jack Eherenman, someone you should know.

Not only do feet belong on basketball courts and tennis courts, wheels belong as well.
"It makes me feel like I'm not the only one with disabilities," participant Thad Olmstead said.

"It's been a lot of fun," participant Caitlin Thoms said.

At the University of Northern Iowa Wheel Chair Sports Camp in Cedar Falls, dozens of young people with special needs gather to get moving.

"It gives other people an opportunity. They thought they couldn't do sports cuz they were in a wheel chair," participant Gerene Tekippe said. "It just gives them the opportunity to figure out what they can do and everything they can accomplish."

This all came from the will of general contractor Jack Eherenman, who started the camp.

"I know there is potential out there, but not a whole lot of opportunity," Eherenman said.

He feels passionately about giving these teens an opportunity. He has four sons, three with special needs. But that didn't stop them from competing. Eherenman coached his son Sean while he was on Waterloo West High School's track team.

"He went to state four years," Jack said. "I went to every meet, every practice."

Sean Eherenman is the only athlete in a wheelchair on West High's Wall of Fame.

Jack saw that athletics helped young people with special needs succeed after high school.

"Going to school, getting jobs, contributing to the community," he said.

"It's important to keep yourself active so you're not sitting around and letting yourself waste away," Tekippe said. "You need to get out and do stuff and figure out what you are good at and find something that will keep you up."

"They feel better about themselves, and do more independent things," Eherenman said of the camp participants. "You see a growth from when they come in and go out, doesn't matter which athlete it is. We see it every year."

"I want to go to the Paralympics," participant Jonathan Litzkow said.

And every year these teens leave with a higher idea of all the possibilities that can roll with a life on wheels. 

Jack Eherenman hopes to set up several camps around the state and have the teams compete against each other.

Currently, Eherenman is helping rebuild one of his camp attendee's flood-damaged homes.

This camp doesn't turn anyone away, and works strictly on donations. If you'd like to learn more or donate, email Jack at JEConstruction1@gmail.com, or call 319-493-0978.

Reporter: Sunny Layne

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