Girl with cerebral palsy overcomes the odds to finish annual Santa Run in record time using a walker
Human beings are remarkable – we can basically manifest almost anything into reality just by putting a little action into it– not to mention the most important piece – never giving up.
And one teen with cerebral palsy did just that by training for almost a year just to complete a race she so desperately wanted to finish.
17-year-old, Mena Hawkins, who is living with cerebral palsy, just walked across the finish line at the Las Vegas Great Santa Run – a run she’s had on her mind for over a year.
Mena, a high school junior in Las Vegas, completed the one-mile course, using her walker, in 38 minutes, her father, Roger Hawkins, told CNN.
The teen’s family and friends were also in attendance, wearing full on Santa gear with homemade signs that said “Go Mena.”
Oh and get this, her grandmother even made a special trip all the way from England just to see her walk. – it was obviously a big deal.
In fact, it was such a big deal, that a team of cheerleaders lined up at the end of the course to celebrate with her as she crossed the finish line – they even threw some confetti to make it official.
Mena uses a manual wheelchair and cannot walk without help from her reverse walker.
And even with several factors working against her physically, she was determined to push through to her new personal goal.
Mena, who was born nine weeks premature, developed cerebral palsy when she was 16 months old.
The debilitating condition primarily affected her legs, along with her motor skills, which makes things like writing extremely difficult for the teenager.
More than half of children with CP can walk independently, but about 1 in 10 children with CP walk with a hand-held mobility device, the CDC says.
Mena participated in the Santa Run six years ago, but she was still walking when the event officially ended. She was so far behind that officials opened up the roads to traffic before she was finished.
“We were tucked in on the sidewalk to avoid the cars,” Roger Hawkins told CNN.
But the failed attempt seemed to spark something in her, something that provided her with the confidence and determination to try again.
“I felt like it was a huge achievement,” Mena said, as she vowed to try again.
To prepare for this year’s Santa Run, Mena had a rigorous training schedule which included walking routes with hills and steep inclines.
She even trained on blistering hot days of over 100 degree weather, just to improve her stamina and endurance.
She also added free weights and core exercises to her training routine, which helps her stand up straighter and for longer periods of time.
Mena said it’s been “really rewarding” to get her training time down to 42 minutes and feel prepared for the upcoming race.
And as for Saturday’s race, she decimated that training time, hitting the mile mark in just 38 minutes – an incredible accomplishment.
In the run up to the event, Mena created a fundraising page to help collect money for Opportunity Village, a non-profit that helps people with disabilities find jobs or pursue their dreams.
Donations poured in from friends and relatives in England and America. They raked in donations “from people we don’t even know,” her father said.
“Our whole family is inspired,” he added. “She’s really developed as a person.”
From here, Mena says her plan is to “continue practicing walking and get stronger over time.”
She hopes her story could help motivate others to overcome adversity in their own lives.
“Be confident in yourself,” she says. “Achieve your end goal. And be happy about it.”
Well Mena, we can say that you’ve definitely inspired us to never give up.
If you have a dream, chase it – don’t ever let your circumstances dictate the outcome of your life – and definitely don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.
Because there will be people like Mena that will prove them wrong every single time. And that, is Majical.