Monday, April 20, 2015

Do you know Tatyana McFadden?

In my experience, this community- those who faced serious or fatal prenatal conditions- has is a soft spot for children who are born and live with serious conditions. This comes from personal conversations, other BLM blogs and comments on blogs of those with kids with serious conditions. I am truly inspired by people who are born with mental or physical limitations and refuse to be labeled or treated'disabled'. Those who reach the full potential of their personal ability. I find this inspiring in all people. For this reason, one of my favorite athletes (para or otherwise) is Tatyana McFadden. 

Don't know who she is? For shame.

She is a wheelchair racer- a track and field phenom. She is 25 years old. In 2013 she won 4 marathons in a row (Boston, London, Chicago and New York) and has 10 Olympic medals to her name. She entered high school with Olympic medals to her name. High school. Makes me feel unaccomplished.

Her mother adopted her from Russia, where Tatyana was born with Spina Bifida. In Russia, a child who dies before the age of 21 days is not considered born and so doesn't count towards fatality statistics. Expecting her to die, they waited until she was 22 days old to close her spine. Her legs withered away and when her mother adopted her at age 6, she had never had a wheelchair and walked on her hands. All this adversity, and she still managed to change the world.

When she entered high school (as a medal winning Olympic athlete) she was denied membership to the track and field team. She and her mother took the fight to the courts- schools cannot deny a student education or the ability to be fully included in school. They won and got a law passed "Tatyana's Law". Her mother happens to be one of the authors of the Americans with Disabilities Act, not a bad person to have on your side.

She won her first Boston Marathon in 2013. Right, she WON her FIRST Boston. Then she won London SIX DAYS later- and she dedicated that win to those effected by the Boston Marathon Bombings. She won Boston the next year in 2014 and again just now in 2015.

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