Runner Becomes One Of The First Women With Down Syndrome To Run NYC Marathon.

Kayleigh Williamson cries after crossing the finish line at the NYC Marathon. Someone holds out a medal for her.

Ever since Kayleigh Williamson was born, she’s proven to be much more capable than folks assume. Now 33 years old, she’s become known as quite the marathon runner. In fact, her latest accomplishment in the NYC Marathon has folks from all over singing her praises. But the road to get here was not easy.

Born with Down syndrome, Kayleigh has been underestimated her whole life. She’s also been bullied. This, along with other struggles, led to unhealthy lifestyles for both Kayleigh and her mom, Sandy. But in 2008, multiple medical diagnoses gave them the motivation needed to make drastic changes. Kayleigh’s diagnosis included being pre-diabetic.

Sandy Williamson smiles as she takes a selfie outside with her daughter, Kayleigh, who is kissing her mom on the cheek as she looks at the camera.

Both Sandy and Kayleigh started to take small steps to eat healthier and exercise. Before they knew it, they were training with coaches at RunLab in Austin, Texas. This prepared them for short races that eventually turned into half-marathons and 5Ks.

“If we don’t meet the cutoff time, I’m OK with that,” Sandy says. “We know what it is to be last in line and we know what it is to have the finish line shut down and picked up, but that’s okay it’s her dream. I will still have a jacket that I’ve made for her that says ‘Marathon Finisher’ on the back, and that’s all she needs.”

Then, in 2017, Kayleigh made history by becoming the first person with Down syndrome to finish the Austin Marathon. Now, Kayleigh continues to push herself to new heights. This includes entering the infamous New York Marathon. Here, she made history once more by becoming one of just a few runners with Down syndrome to complete the race — and potentially the only female with Down syndrome to do so!

Kayleigh Williamson Makes History During NYC Marathon

The moment Kayleigh crosses the finish line, which can be seen in the video above, she becomes overwhelmed with emotions. In turn, countless folks are sharing in her victory, also moved by this incredible feat.

“I am a diva,” Kayleigh says. “I did a victory dance at the finish line.”

Kayleigh and her mom truly have so much to celebrate. In addition to her accolades since 2017, Kayleigh’s health has vastly improved — she’s no longer pre-diabetic! Plus, she’s caught the bug for being active.

Kayleigh Williamson holds onto the harness she's wearing as she pulls the weights attached to the harness.

In addition to marathons, you can find Kayleigh playing basketball, swimming, powerlifting, and practicing the martial art Krav Maga.

“When Kayleigh Williamson was born, I was told I would be lucky if she walked before she was 5 — if ever,” Sandy shares. “She has never allowed what anyone thought she could or could not do define what she does.”

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here!

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