Former Pulaski wrestling manager receives national courage award

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PULASKI, Wis. (WBAY) — A former wrestling manager for Pulaski High School was honored Thursday night, but he never wrestled a single match in his high school career.

Instead, Gerry Lasecki is being recognized for overcoming a lifetime full of obstacles off the mat.

“His brothers were wrestling at the time and I asked him to be a manager,” said Jim Richie, retired teacher and wrestling coach for Pulaski High School.

“Being handicapped, I didn’t expect that,” said Lasecki. “I just go to school and do my classes, but when he got me into wrestling, he got me out speaking.”

Lasecki had polio at the age of 5.

“With my handicap I was held back four years because I would go to therapy and then go to school,” said Lasecki.

But he wasn’t about to let his disability pin him down so he persevered; and with a little help he went to school with his peers.

“My ex-teacher picked me up and brought me back home, Mr. Ripley,” said Lasecki. “That was out of the ordinary.”

“I had to take him out of the wheel chair, you know, at that time we didn’t have ramps and all that beautiful stuff we have now,” said Emil Ripley, Lasecki’s former teacher.

Whether it was in the classroom or on the mat encouraging his friends, Richie said Lasecki is truly inspiring.

“He never sat back and felt sorry for himself, he always faced everything daily, always with a positive attitude,” said Richie

Richie said that is why Lasecki is set to receive the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Medal of Courage.

“That’s quite an honor to get,” said Lasecki. “To be handicapped and stuff because I never got to wrestle on the mat, it was just the dedication of making my boys and classmates wrestle better and I think they did that through me.”

Lasecki will receive his official award on April 9.

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