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Written By:  Tiffany Verzal @ Stand with Faith

Last year I watched a viral video that just tugged at my heartstrings. Maybe you have seen it? It’s called “Let’s go, Matt! Boy With Cerebral Palsy Runs Field Day Event At School.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6Alt2DssYc

I watched most of the video with a smile until I heard the parents start to talk…then I started to cry. I immediately put myself behind that video camera they were holding. I heard them yell, “Keep going Matt! Make sure you stand up.”  I knew what they were feeling. They were holding their breath, hoping that Matt wouldn’t fall. They really wanted to be holding him up. 50% of them was wishing that he hadn’t tried this in case he didn’t make it… yet 100% proud that he had the courage to try.

My heart whispered, “I really hope that this is Alexis someday.”  

What an accomplishment for Matt, his parents, his friends, his teachers and that school. I don’t know them, but I can only guess that (that) run was a culmination of years of therapy, tears, cheers, worry, and many, many doctor’s appointments.

When I watched that video last year, I didn’t expect to live out that moment anytime soon. Like I said, I wished for that to happen someday. But this last year has been a year full of blessings when it comes to Alexis walking. So when a good friend of mine, who also has a daughter who uses a walker, suggested we try the Mayor’s Run in Lincoln, I let myself dream a little bit of the possibility.

Brandon and I are both runners, so Alexis was pretty excited to hear that she was going to run in a race. We went out and bought her a running hat and some new running clothes that looked like my running clothes, she was thrilled! We decided to work on her endurance since the race was a mile. We planned on her just walking it, but she (of course) had a different idea. After several practices, we realized that the girl was definitely NOT going to walk. She was also bound and determined that she was NOT going to use her walker.

Alexis' new running outfit

 

We got to the race early, and it was cold and rainy. I was worried that Alexis wasn’t going to want to run, but she seems to always surprise me. As soon as the gun fired, she was really off and running. We got passed by everyone right away, but it didn’t phase her. She was swinging her arms, and in her mind, she was in a full sprint. Check out the video below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9UVAQ-L7pA

I was getting a kick out of watching her until I looked up and stared right into the eyes of Alexis’ first physical therapist. There she was sitting right there on the curb, watching her children run the race. I took a moment, and I remembered, this is a miracle that Alexis is running today. Laura, the physical therapist, knew it too. She knows the fight that it took, the grueling hours upon hours of therapy, the amount of work it takes for Alexis to move each muscle…yet here we are, running a mile in a race. I was so glad Laura was there to help remind me what an accomplishment this was. Here’s a picture of Alexis and Laura after the race.

Alexis and Laura after the race

It took Alexis only 25 minutes to run that mile. We were so proud. She was so proud. We had a medal ceremony for her at the end.

Alexis Verzal finishes the race

In true runners fashion, she asked, “Mom, when’s the next race? I am ready to run another one!” 

What a moment…another wish came true. No, it wasn’t exactly like Matt’s independent run…but I would say that it was just as inspiring.

Tiffany Verzal

Tiffany Verzal was raised in rural Nebraska, and now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with her husband Brandon and daughter Alexis (9) and Abby (2). In 2008, Alexis (then 14-months-old) was the victim of shaken baby syndrome at the hands of her daycare provider in Texas. Alexis suffered severe brain damage and has spent over 2000 hours in rehabilitation since her injury. Tiffany continues to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury, shaken baby syndrome and child abuse. Brandon and Tiffany serve as members on Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital’s Board of Trustees. Brandon is currently the Chairman of the Nebraska Child Abuse Prevention Fund Board.

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