Avery's Marathon

Avery's Marathon 

This 7-year-old didn't let her medical conditions stop her from going the distance to help others.

Completing a 26.2 mile marathon is a challenge for any 7-year-old, but for Avery, who has spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and congenital hydrocephalus, it was a daunting task.  But this little super hero didn't let her medical conditions stop her from completing the YMCA Kids Marathon on Saturday, April 20.

Before she was even born, Avery was diagnosed with congenital hydrocephalus. She had so much excess fluid in her brain that her brain tissue was squashed into a thin shell under her skull.   At just two-days-old, she underwent brain surgery to drain the fluid from her head. As a result of the damage caused by her hydrocephalus, Avery was officially diagnosed with Spastic Diplegic Cerebral Palsy when she was 14 months old. As other kids her age were learning to walk, Avery was just learning to sit up and crawl. She has been in physical therapy since she was 1 month old, and now that she is 7, her family tries to keep her as active as often as their funds allow.

As Y members, Avery’s mother Josephine first learned about the Kids Marathon in December 2011.  “I knew Avery wasn't ready to do it at that point, but it became a hope and dream of mine that she would be able to participate this year.”

Now in its fourth year, the Kids Marathon is a non-timed, non-competitive event where kids complete 25.2 miles on their own and then come together to complete the final mile. Since January, Avery has been logging miles towards her 25.2 mile goal, and on April 20, 2013, Avery joined hundreds of others to complete the final mile in our Rainbow Race Day.  Her goal was to not only finish the marathon, but also to raise money for her own therapies and for the non-profits CURE hydrocephalus and United Cerebral Palsy.

The journey towards her goal of completing the Kid's Marathon has been difficult and somewhat painful for Avery.  On January 5, she started by riding her bike one mile and walking one lap with her walker.  After logging the first mile, Josephine knew they had a lot of work to do.  “She was EXHAUSTED!  At that pace, it would take her 100 minutes to complete that last mile on April 20th,” said Josephine, “But, as I've been telling Avery, she is only going to get stronger and faster the more she works at it.”

Through the winter and spring, Avery kept on logging miles.  She biked and she walked, making progress each day.  On April 8, Avery made a major accomplishment—she walked a WHOLE MILE in one go, and she did it at a pace that was about 30 minutes faster than her previous average walking pace. Josephine said, “It has been exciting to watch her growing stronger and gain greater control over her own body!  It makes it even more special that she can do it, not only for herself, but for other children born with her medical conditions. I think it's important for her to realize that she is not the only one, and that there are others who are not as fortunate as herself, and that she can help them! It's been pretty awesome being able to watch her come to a realization that she can do something to help.”

“Even as I signed her up for it in December, I wasn't sure whether she was ready to do it,” said Josephine. “Today she is able to walk and ride so much further and faster than when she began this journey, and I hope that she will come out of this with a greater understanding of the fact that regular exercise is one of the keys being able to use her body the way she wants to.”

On our Rainbow Race Day, Avery finished the final mile in just 45 minutes.  She was greeted at the finish line by hundreds who were cheering for her.  She finished the race without her walker and inspired us all to go the distance.

Want more inspiration?  Read our Y Inspired Archives:

Summer Food Program:  The Y served 60,000 meals last summer 
Good Medicine:  JoAnne Lofaro get a prescription to the Y

Paco's Great Adventure:  Gaining confidence, losing weight

99-year-old Arthur Schenkein proves age is just a number