boy lifting weights

Raising the bar without skipping a beat

Grant Petersen is stronger than he looks. At just 10 years old, he is a Nebraska weightlifting champion with sights set on going to the Olympics someday. “I’m always trying to lift more than myself,” Grant said about what motivates him. At Nationals in December 2020, that meant a 21-kilo (46-pound) snatch and 30-kilo (66-pound) clean and jerk.

Quarantining at home during the COVID-19 pandemic has given Grant the opportunity to focus on his form, setting new personal records and, as he says, “earning bigger weights.” He goes to school in Omaha Public Schools (half the time from home, learning remotely at a desk he built with his grandparents) and works out with his parents and a coach in much of his free time.

“Our whole family does weightlifting together,” said Kerry Petersen, mom to Grant and his two brothers, ages 6 and 12. “What I love about it is that there’s always something to work towards.” Kerry’s own strength training and CrossFit routine is what got Grant interested in weightlifting in the first place. That was roughly two years ago.

What you wouldn’t guess from watching this boy smoothly lift a 46-pound bar over his head is that just five years earlier, he had open-heart surgery. When Grant was a baby, his doctors discovered a murmur and, at age 3, he had surgery to patch the tiny holes in his heart. “I work in the medical field, so I knew a lot of the people that would be involved in his surgery; I knew what to expect,” Kerry said. But even with that understanding, she worried as much as any mom would.

“Even if they consider it a small surgery, it’s still very scary as a parent to know that your baby is going to be opened up on the table to do something like that to his heart.” Fortunately, the invasive procedure went smoothly. Grant was recovering from home within 48 hours and hasn’t looked back since. “Blue Cross and Blue Shield has always meant having one less thing to worry about,” Kerry said. “Working in health care, I know how hard it is for families and how stressful it is for families to have bills racking up, and we have been so lucky to have Blue Cross and Blue Shield on our side.”

A small scar on Grant’s chest is all that remains of his health scare, and the many weightlifting medals he’s sporting around his neck more than cover it up. It’s clear Grant puts heart into everything he does. “I am so proud of Grant in what has been a trying year for everybody,” Kerry said. “Whether he needs to work on his form using low weights or focus on an iPad to learn Spanish, Grant just shows up and brings his all every day.” Grant’s strength is an inspiration for all of us.

To see more of Grant’s story and other health journeys like his, or to share your own, visit

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