Remarkable People 2021: Monica Sereda, Team USA Paralympic Cyclist

Monica Sereda is America’s girl. 2021 marked the comeback year for this disabled army veteran.

Monica trained rigorously for over five years to earn a place on the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Cycling team. Despite multiple disabilities including a traumatic brain injury, 23 surgeries including a recent surgery to repair her torn shoulder, she pushed every day to overcome her limitations and maintain focus on her goal to ride for the U.S.A in Tokyo this year.

In May, Monica finished 1st in Belgium during World Cup earning two gold medals, two silver medals in the Paracycling Open in Huntsville, and another silver medal in the Paralympic Trials in Minneapolis. This secured her spot with only five other women on paracycling team.

During the Paralympics in Tokyo this year, she impressed the world finishing 4th overall in the road race and 7th in the time trial. She returned from her Paralympic debut honored to represent the U.S. but disappointed that she was just one step away from the podium. She is back training with sights set on the Paralympic Games in Paris 2024.

COVID restricted most of the sponsor and fundraising events she attends every year, but Monica brought her charitable spirit to her community. The homeless wave “good morning Monica!” on her cycling route. They know her name because she brings them blankets, food and suitcases to keep their clothes dry. She offers them kindness and dignity, rarely bestowed.

Monica used the time since COVID to support her teammates and stay positive despite quarantine and the cancellation of the 2020 Paralympics. She knows what it’s like to have to fight and rebound.

From the war-ravaged battlefields in Panama, Saudi, and Iraq to the relentless effort to represent the USA in Tokyo, Monica has sacrificed most of her adult life in honor of our stars and stripes. Enduring the fear of military expulsion for being gay, then marginalization during the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell directive, Monica continued her 24-year army career retiring as decorated Master Sargent in 2011.

When I asked how she felt about it, she said “I was willing to die for every man, woman and child in this country, even the ones that disapproved of me. Now I ride for them, but I’m doing that as an openly gay American. I’m proud to wear the American flag on my jersey near my heart.”

American spirit is what Monica Sereda demonstrates with her national pride and unyielding enthusiasm of service to this country and her local community.

To view the full list of Watermark’s Remarkable People of 2021, click here.

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