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Soaring to Glory: Meet Brady Tanner

Brady Tanner returned home from the Special Olympics World Summer Games with four medals. Silver in Squat Lift, Gold in Dead Lift, Gold in Bench Press, and Gold in Combination in All Lifts. Way to go, Brady!

Brady Tanner has countless medals to his name and has been competing in a variety of Special Olympics sports for over two decades. But powerlifting is where Brady really excels and he is heading to the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Athens to represent Team USA. But his road to glory was not an easy one.

Determination. Dad Gary Tanner spots Brady.  Gary has been there every step of the way, helping his son train.

Looking at Brady Tanner today it is hard to believe that the 250 lb., 5-foot-7 powerlifter was born just barely over 4 pounds.  At age two, little Brady was not saying any words and was not walking. It turned out that the boy could not hear.  To this day Brady sometimes has trouble communicating.  Though tests showed some developmental delays it took several years to get a diagnosis – Brady has a rare condition known as Rubenstein-Taybi Syndrome.

At age four Brady was having a lot of trouble adjusting at school where teachers did not know how to work with a special needs child.  His parents, tireless advocates on their son’s behalf, considered their options and made a tough choice. The Tanners uprooted their family and moved to a different state so that their son would have more opportunities to thrive.  Parents and teachers teamed up to find ways for Brady to learn and things really turned around when Brady started participating in Special Olympics. 

Family Support

Train hard. Brady at Team USA training camp before Special Olympics World Summer Games.

Mom Janie Tanner says that through Special Olympics she "gained another family."  She no longer felt alone and was grateful to have the support network.  More than twenty years later Brady is still participating and had countless medals from state, regional, and international competitions.  He keeps a busy schedule competing in basketball, soccer, volleyball, softball, track and field, and cheerleading.  But powerlifting came later.

For many years Brady’s dad Gary Tanner was the head coach at the Haskell Indian Nations University. Brady started helping out as the ball boy when he was still just a kid, often hanging out around the weight room.  Years later one of the players on the team saw Brady’s potential to be a weightlifter and helped him get started.

Amazing Transformation

Though Brady was slight when he first began training, weightlifting 'clicked' and with incredible dedication he packed on more than 100 pounds. Today he lifts 415 pounds in the bench press, 625 in the squat, and 575 in the deadlift.  Brady was selected to Team USA for the upcoming Special Olympics World Summer Games taking place in Athens.

Dad Gary has been there every step of the way with Brady, spotting his son and coaching him.  Though Gary runs the Haskell University exercise science program, in the weight room he is "Brady's dad."

Not a man of many words, when asked about his favorite part of Special Olympics, Brady sums it up in just one word - “everything.”