Back in June I made a blog post about Vicky and Melissa, two very inspiring ladies. (Click HERE to read the original post)
Vicky has had three strokes since August of 2007; the second of which in June 2011 left her with very limited use of her left side. Melissa, on the other hand, has a rare congenital visual impairment known as congenital achromatopsoa or cone dystrophy. She is legally blind with her impairment causing her to be color blind and highly photophobic (difficulty seeing in bright light).
They are not your typical running team. They try to work together like a well oiled machine. They try to help each other; giving and taking as needed. Vicky uses all the strength she has in her good arm and leg while Melissa greatly assists (especially on the uphill terrain). Vicky can be heard telling Melissa more right or left to assure that she (Vicky) can move the chair with her right leg to the best of her ability without it pulling too strongly to one side or the other. Now the downhill is a different story. Melissa often holds on for dear life while Vicky is enjoying having the wind in her hair.
Not only do they run, but they cross train in martial arts (taekwondo, hapkido, judo) where they met in 2007. They earned their first degree black belt in TKD in 2010. In 2012 they endured a grueling test and earned their second degree black belts. This test was difficult enough already but Vicky managed to complete it from her wheelchair only 7 months after suffering her debilitating stroke.
They started this journey in August of 2011 when Melissa got Vicky to participate in the Man Run for Prostate Cancer in honor of her father. They only did the 1 mile fun run for fear that they couldn’t handle the 5k distance. When they finished they were shocked at how short that one mile really was. They decided then to go the distance and enter a 5k that October. They intended to walk it with another friend, but soon discovered their competitive spirit leaving their friend behind to complete the race in 43 minutes. Since then they have competed in several other 5k’s with their best finishing time of 36 minutes.
They have also participated in the Knoxville Marine Mud Run 5k this past September. With a team of ten great friends, they all helped Vicky complete this very challenging course consisting of many muddy obstacles that were difficult for an able bodied person, but even more challenging with just use of half of your body. This accomplishment was the first of its kind for this race. To this day, people are still talking about “the lady in the wheelchair” that did that entire race with a smile on her face the whole time.
After completion of their next race on June 1, 2013 They planned to step way out of their comfort zone and begin training to compete in a 10k and ultimately a half marathon. Their hope was to run/walk/roll in the Secret City Half Marathon on December 1, 2013.
AND THEY DID IT!!!!!
December 1st Vicky and Melissa RAN THEIR FIRST HALF MARATHON!
Anne Brock of Flour Sack Mama was there to capture this AMAZING finish line photo!
I am so proud of these amazing ladies!
Head on over to their Facebook Page With A Will There Is A Way and give them some love!