That’s certainly the case for Kory Puderbaugh, who went to the White House in 2016, and made quite the entrance to the presidential residence
“When we went, they didn’t have an elevator [for wheelchair access], so they had to pull us in through the kitchen lift,” he told the Olympics Information Service on Thursday.
The White House did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
Nonetheless, Puderbaugh has fond memories of his visit. He joked around with the former US President and enjoyed a tour of the the historic building.
“I asked him when he was going to get his six-pack abs back,” he said. “He laughed and said, ‘I’m still working on my four-pack.'”
“It was cool to meet him and his wife and get a tour of the White House. In movies, they portray it as being big and spacious, but it’s actually smaller and a lot more cozy — although there’s a lot of bathrooms,” he added.
A matter of destiny
However, it was when a friend introduced him to wheelchair rugby that he found his true calling, participating in the sport in order to overcome the trials of his disability.
“In this sport, you’ll see fast guys, you’ll see guys that are a little slower, but it’s a team sport, and everyone plays a crucial role,” he added.
For someone who was abandoned shortly after birth by his parents in Poland, Puderbaugh’s journey to the Paralympics signals his unwavering sense of drive and optimism.
When he was five, Puderbaugh was brought to the US by Florida non-profit organization Gabriel House of Care.
“I have memories of the orphanage and being visited by somebody who I think might have been my mother,” Puderbaugh told the Olympics Information Service.
“And I remember flying over to America; I knew something was happening, but I didn’t know exactly what,” he added.
He was eventually adopted at the age of 15 by a middle school teacher living in Idaho, John Cochrane, after various foster homes and adoptive families.
“My childhood was a rollercoaster, and consistency was sometimes lacking,” he said. “Later on, I had two host families who fed me, clothed me and gave me opportunities to excel at rugby, wrestling, chess — whatever I wanted to do. They took me in as one of their own.”
While Puderbaugh says he’s settled in the US, he’s also curious about his own ancestral history.
“My girlfriend has done some research to try and find out more about my birth family, but I’m still waiting a little bit longer before I take more action myself,” he said.
“I love my life and I have an amazing family in Idaho, I feel like I’m blessed and I’m just not ready to fully open that chapter yet.”
The 25-year-old was excited to compete in his second Paralympics at Tokyo 2020 this summer.
And who knows, perhaps he’ll soon be back at the White House.