Rice University student to represent U.S. in Paralympics in Tokyo

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Ahalya Lettenberger is living her dream!

"It hasn't really sunk in yet. And it probably won't sink until I go it's just been a whirlwind."

Lettenberger is a Rice University student, majoring in bioengineering. But next month, she will represent the USA in swimming at the Paralympics in Tokyo.

"I've been dreaming about this moment forever, so just thinking about wearing red, white and blue and being able to represent my country, I mean, I dream about it every day," Lettenberger told ABC13.

Lettenberger was born arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC), which is a muscular-skeletal disorder that affects her legs, but not her drive to be great in the pool.

"I really want my story to inspire others - especially others with disabilities and I want to do that in all aspects of my life."

With Paralympics gaining in popularity, a bigger light will shine on Lettenberger and other Paralympian's in Tokyo

"We work just as hard as any other athlete, so to get that recognition and publicity, that's just really, really amazing," she said.

Lettenberger openly admits her love for parmesan cheese, and with the new rules college athletes can profit off their name image and likeness, she has one company and product she's ready to endorse.

"Parmesan cheese is my favorite food. It's always my fun fact that parmesan is my favorite food, so yea Kraft is my dream company to work with," she said.

Joe Gleason is a sports producer and photographer for ABC13 Houston, where he's worked for more than 25 years. Follow Joe on Twitter, and see more of his work at ABC13 Sports
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