You have no idea of a person’s story or ability until you take the time to talk to her. That is what Pacers did for me. I am not just a person with a disability who showed up and wanted to run. Pacers Running talked to me to understand and help me reach my running goals.
I have spastic diplegia cerebral palsy (CP). In my case, my CP primarily affects my legs; balance and coordination are significant issues for me. I lost oxygen at birth and the part of my brain that controls certain motor functions was damaged. Messages from that part of my brain do not reach my legs as they should. In my head I look like every runner out there but I know that to others I don’t look like that. My body just does not cooperate for me to run in what most would consider a traditional sense. Plus, there are so many pictures; I definitely know what I look like when I am running!
In my life, I want to know that I made a difference. I want to be a good friend. If in the process of doing those things and living my life, it changes the way a few people think about people with disabilities, which is great. A disability is not just some paragraphs in a textbook; there are real people and life experiences behind those words.
People often ask me if I say “why me” and I find this such an odd question. If I did not have my disability, I would be missing a huge part of what makes me the person I am. To say there are no bad days ever, is untrue. It is untrue for me, and it is untrue for people without disabilities, but to let those bad days become your narrative does not serve you well in any aspect of life. When I took up running, people would ask me how my family or friends felt about it. Were they worried I would do something dangerous or get hurt. Those who know me know I am determined. There no room for negativity.
In running and racing there is a strong team aspect. Lisa [Reeves], Pacers Race Director, would say to me it is not extra effort for me to participate in a race but that is not the case; we need to work with local jurisdictions and respect their permitting rules. Pacers does their best to make races as accessible as possible to all runners and accommodate the needs of participants. This year at The Parkway Classic everyone knew I was training for the Marine Corps Historic Half, my first half marathon. Even though the Historic Half is not a Pacers race, everyone was aware I had a goal, and we worked toward it together. Whether you are an elite racer or Jamie Watts, Pacers Running makes sure everyone receives the same race day experience. It is no mistake that I aligned with a company whose tagline is #ForEveryRun. Running allows me to leverage the ability that I have. I can train every day, but if I do not have the chance to race, it is a lost opportunity. Thank you Pacers running for giving me that chance.