Woman with Down Syndrome Makes NYC Marathon History.

Woman with Down Syndrome Makes NYC Marathon History.

February 20, 2024 by Cathy Stack

Kayleigh Williamson, born and raised in Austin, Texas, made history as the first woman with Down syndrome to complete the New York City Marathon. Her quest to complete the race encompassed 10 hours and 9 minutes; time filled with both high and low moments. Lighthearted dances, hugs and high fives from bystanders kept her spirits high and helped fuel her through the more difficult moments of muscle pain and fatigue. Kayleigh’s fierce and determined spirit helped her push on, and she broke down in tears of joy as she crossed the finish line.

Kayleigh’s interest in running started in 2017 when her mother, Sandy, an avid runner, suggested that they implement healthier lifestyle choices. Kayleigh decided to join Sandy on her daily run, and she soon discovered that she shared loved it.

"I like to run because it makes me feel happy," Kayleigh said.

The pair then took their passion for running to the next level and signed up to compete in local and national races. Since then, they have run 20 half marathons together.

Kayleigh participated in her first full marathon in 2022 in her hometown of Austin. The state of Texas declared February 20 “Kayleigh Williamson Day” to honor her achievement.

She then set her sights on the New York Marathon, which she completed on November 5, 2023.

“Despite the pain, Kayleigh was determined to finish the race. Her muscles were sore, and they were bothering her. Things like that. But Kaylee didn’t stop. She didn’t want to give up,” said mom Sandy, reflecting on Kayleigh’s experience in New York.

Thousands of New York spectators cheered on a tired and sore Kayleigh as she crossed the finish line. She said she'll always remember the incredible way she felt the moment she knew she made history as the first woman with Down syndrome to complete the race.

“I did a victory dance at the finish line," Kayleigh recalled.

“If there’s one thing people see when they see us out there, it should be the possibility in themselves,” said Sandy.

Kayleigh is not done making history. Her goal now is to run a half marathon in every state to honor her grandmother who recently passed away.

The Foundation for a Better Life and PassItOn believe that Kayleigh is a hero. Her grit and determination motivated her to break barriers and prove the skeptics wrong. She is a shining example for individuals of all abilities that they can shoot for the stars. 

Watch video herehttps://youtu.be/o3Z3fp4K3pw?si=rJ-vx3v-na2rfdou

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Your Comments
Joel from Chicago  FEBRUARY 20, 2024
Thank you for another joyous reminder of the beauty of life and humanity.

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