Never Underestimate a RARE Kid! Joslyn Runs for GOTR

February 5, 2015

Joslyn joined Girls on the Run (GOTR) because she wanted a tutu. She had seen the girls at her school last year all wearing their tutus and she desperately wanted one. She talked about it constantly so I wouldn’t forget to sign her up. We weren’t sure if it was a good idea. Due to her chromosome disorder, low muscle tone and club feet, Joslyn doesn’t move very fast. We didn’t know much about GOTR but we knew it included running and we didn’t feel she was capable of running. Beyond the physical, Joslyn’s attention issues due to Autism would make things difficult for the coaches. But I spoke with my friend Toni who had decided to become a GOTR coach and she encouraged me to sign Jossy up. We did our best to help ensure her success by making sure her TSS could help for one practice per week.

We were nervous about how things would go but Joslyn came home from the first practice full of smiles! I loved that she was able to go at her own pace but still be around the other girls. I loved that the girls seemed to wholeheartedly embrace her and care for her. There had been times in the past when Joslyn had been looked at and pointed at and teased. It was wonderful to feel we had found a safe haven for her.

About 3 weeks after the season started my children were all playing and running outside. I watched as Joslyn broke out into a full run to chase after her siblings. Never before had we seen her run! It’s so amazing to witness your child accomplish something new when you thought it might not be possible.

The season continued and the girls that embraced her at the beginning of the season began to form true friendships with Joslyn. Teagan and Sydney were the two she spoke of most often. How grateful we are for all of these friends!

Soon it was time for the practice 5k. With the double stroller and her 2 younger sisters in tow we began the race. I was anticipating a very long afternoon, sure that I would be dragging Joslyn along by the end. But, as she always does, Joslyn surprised me. We started the race with Sydney who was a source of constant encouragement. We would run for a minute or two and then walk for a bit, back and forth. Sydney kept saying “Come on, Jossy! Come on, girl let’s run!! Push your turbo button!!”

And with a grin Jossy would break out into a run. Eventually Sydney moved on to run a bit faster and still Jossy plugged along. Never once did she ask to be done or to quit early. So many friends yelled out encouragement as they ran past and on the final lap about 10 of them joined us. When those girls started running with us Joslyn began grinning bigger than I’ve ever seen her grin. She was loving every minute! The girls and I fell away so she could cross the finish line on her own. The cheering from the whole team and coaches and others was so loud! Watching her complete this huge accomplishment was amazing! So many times we had been warned that Jossy might never walk, might never run, might never succeed in a regular classroom. Doctors would have laughed if we had asked if she would ever be able to compete a 5K. Yet here she was, doing just that. For me this was my favorite moment of the season. It just meant so much.

The rest of the season flew by and soon it was race day. Joslyn was so excited! All she had talked about for DAYS was the tutu! She had fun getting ready with her team and getting to hug and pose with the Frozen characters. The race was cold and wet, and poor Jossy started complaining that she needed to use the potty at the halfway mark, but again she kept going and never asked to stop. The two of us got to spend some real quality time together during the race. With 4 siblings Jossy doesn’t get a ton of alone time with me. So we spent the race talking. We discussed Christmas presents and friends and birthday ideas. It took 1 hour and 7 minutes to complete the race. As we rounded the corner to the finish line we saw several teammates waiting and they ran towards us to once again finish the race with Joslyn. I was touched that they had stayed even after they finished to encourage Jossy. The grin showed up again. Even exhausted and wet, at that moment Joslyn was once again the happiest girl in the world.

Joslyn got so much out of her GOTR experience but we also got something. We received a reminder to never underestimate how far she can go and what she can do.

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