A young woman with cerebral palsy achieved an important milestone Saturday in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Seventeen-year-old Mena Hawkins has trained since March to participate in the Las Vegas Great Santa Run which takes place every year, according to WXII.
The teenager who normally uses a wheelchair to get around, used her reverse walker to complete the mile-long course. Six years ago, she participated in the Santa Run but was still on her way to the finish line when the event ended.
She and her dad, Roger, were forced to get on the sidewalk because officials had opened up the roads to traffic.
However, that did not stop Mena from making plans to try again. “I felt like it was a huge achievement,” she said.
This year, her training regimen included walking routes with hills and lifting free weights in the gym. She even trained on days when it was 110 degrees outside.
When she got her training time down to 42 minutes, Mena said the entire experience was “really rewarding.” At Saturday’s race, she blew threw her normal time and made it across the finish line in just 38 minutes.
As part of the event, Mena started a fundraising page to raise money for Opportunity Village (@oppvillagelv), an organization that assists people with disabilities in finding jobs and achieving their life goals. “Our goal is to work with each individual and find out what they like to do. What their passion is. No matter where they fall on the disability spectrum we want them to go as far as possible,” wrote CEO Bob Brown on the nonprofit’s website.
Mena’s friends and family walked with her to the finish line Saturday and her grandmother even flew in from England to witness the special moment. “Our whole family is inspired,” Roger said of his very determined daughter. “She’s really developed as a person.” #binspirednews