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Continuing to Make an Impact on Iowa: Erik Weihenmayer

Weihenmayer in DSM

January 25, 2023

Erik Weihenmayer first traveled to Iowa to participate at the National Junior Freestyle Wrestling Championships in the summer of 1986. He was an 18-year-old high school senior. I was 20 and an intern reporter for KUNI (now Iowa Public Radio).

An Award-Winning Interview with a Determined Athlete

In the throng of hundreds of high school wrestlers and their families and supporters packing the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls, there was great buzz about “the blind wrestler from Connecticut and his guide dog.” Though blind, Erik had become a top high school wrestler in his home state.

I sat down with Erik after one of his matches to talk about excelling at a grueling sport when he couldn’t see his opponent. His father, Ed Weihenmayer III, joined us and talked about Erik’s mother dying in a car crash, about faith and about his extraordinary son. Blindness wasn’t a disability to the Weihenmayers. Blindness was a life struggle to move past, said the father who was always there for his son.

Erik and his father were gracious, open, interesting. The interview earned first place in radio reporting from the Associated Press-Iowa and the Iowa Radio and Television News Directors Association.

Even then, people saw the greatness in Erik Weihenmayer. He did not win a single match at the week-long tournament that summer at the University of Northern Iowa. But he made an impression on all those he met that August.

I very much look forward to Erik returning to Iowa on Thursday, Jan. 26 to be the keynote speaker at the 2023 Greater Des Moines Partnership Annual Dinner at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center, 833 5th Ave., Des Moines.

Learn more about the sold-out Annual Dinner event on the Greater Des Moines Partnership events calendar and read more about keynote speaker Eric Weihenmayer's courageous story. You can also find more information at erikweihenmayer.com.

The Greater Des Moines Partnership calendar of events is a one-stop resource for activities taking place throughout the region. Find networking information for Greater Des Moines (DSM) businesses or events specific to Downtown DSM.

Ben Hildebrandt

Ben Hildebrandt is the President & Chief Strategy Officer for Carpe Futura, helping Iowa businesses sharpen messages for better results and grow profits. He has led award-winning communications teams at the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce/The Partnership and Iowa Bankers Association and served as Executive Director of the American Institute of Architects Iowa chapter.