Emily Lyon: I Run Because I Can

Emily Lyon

Name: Emily Lyon
Grade: 5th Grade
School: St. Joseph Manchester
Favorite thing to do: Spend time with friends!

Emily’s story:
When Emily walks into a room, her smile radiates around her. She is 100% a Girl on the Run; she believes in herself and makes others around her feel confident, empowered and capable. Despite her enthusiasm for Girls on the Run, Emily had never walked 3.1 miles consecutively before, and had some challenges to overcome throughout the Fall 2014 season.

Emily was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. The damage to her back is low so she can walk. She wears braces from the knees down and has almost no feeling in her legs. As you can imagine, walking is a challenge for Emily. In her 10 years she has had 8 surgeries. 

Emily was one of twelve girls to participate on the inaugural Girls on the Run team at St. Joseph Manchester this Fall 2014 season. In fact, Emily was one of the reasons that the team was such a success. When she saw the posters advertising the program at her school, she immediately went home, told her mom that she wanted to be in the program, and then proceeded to tell all of her friends to participate as well! When Emily’s mother saw that the program was called “Girls on the RUN,” she was skeptical, and put off registering Emily, because she didn’t want Emily to feel disappointed if the program didn’t go well. After much persistence on Emily’s side, her mom reached out to the Girls on the Run coaches at St. Joseph to make sure Emily would be able to participate. Emily’s parents were surprised she wanted to participate but were super proud of her, whether she was able to finish the season or not, and she was officially signed up!

With support from the coaches at St. Joseph’s, Emily participated in nearly every practice, and loved being on a team with her friends from school. She didn’t feel different or unwelcome, instead, Emily embraced the activities and conversations, becoming a more confident girl, even coming home and telling her brothers and sisters about the importance of eating healthy and being active. There were some days that were hard for Emily, but the best part was that her team was always there to support her and cheer each other on!

Saturday, November 15th was a big day for Emily. That morning, she and her dad (her running buddy) donned their tutus and headed to Soldier’s Memorial to meet the rest of the St. Joseph’s team. As Emily’s father shares, “I got to see her determination really shine.  Emily never talked about quitting. I offered to bring the wheel chair we use for her for long walks with us just in case...she would have none of it.  The smile she had when she finished was beaming, a special day I know she won't forget.”

On Thanksgiving, about two weeks after the 5K, Emily proudly shared her Girls on the Run 5K medal to 30 family members! Emily hopes to participate in the program again in 2015, and one of her sisters is excited to become a Girl on the Run as well!

At Girls on the Run we believe all girls are gaining the 5 C's Plus 1: caring, confidence, character, connection, competence and contribution. Here is an example of someone who is living the 5C’s Plus 1 to the fullest.
Congratulations on your first 5K, Emily!