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Paralyzed Utah County woman to race in Boston Marathon

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AMERICAN FORK -- How many times have you intended to exercise but then found a good excuse to stay home? American Fork resident Katie Terry has plenty of good excuses, but she refuses to give in.

I hope the things I'm doing will teach (my children) lesson. That's the most important thing ... lessons like in endurance, determination and not giving up.

–Katie Terry


Step by tiny step, Katie tries desperately to walk again. In August of 2002, she was in a terrible car accident.

"I already knew," Katie said. "I just kinda knew something was wrong."

Katie knew her life was forever changed -- her spine was nearly severed, paralyzing her from the waist down. But she also knew her attitude would determine her happiness.

"I really felt OK about things," she said. "I really did feel like, 'OK, this was my new thing in life that I'm gonna have to do, and bring it on. Let's do this the best way possible.'"

Katie's best way is the only way she knows: going all out. The former high school and college athlete borrowed a handcycle, and she was hooked.

"The athlete's mentality -- ‘go, fight, win,' like die hard -- it helped," Katie said.

It also helped that Katie has two children, both with special needs. Knowing their struggles, she wanted to prove great things can happen despite disability.

"I hope the things I'm doing will teach them lessons. That's the most important thing," she said. "Lessons like in endurance, determination and not giving up."

I want people to realize that life isn't over in anything. You can do it.

–Katie Terry


That determination has already proven successful. Katie has competed in the Ragnar Relay series and finished two St. George marathons.

"This issue is not going to determine who am or who I become," Katie said. "Just doing it made me feel that much better and like, ‘Oh, OK, I can do this. What's next?'"

What's next is the Boston Marathon on April 18. Katie, now 33, qualified in St. George with a time of 1 hour 47 minutes.

"It really just gave me the realization that anything is possible," she said.

"I have my moments, my days where I'm like, 'Ugh, I'm done with this.' But I'm excited to be able to do it," Katie said. "I want people to realize that life isn't over in anything. You can do it."

Despite intensive therapy, Katie says she's not expecting to walk again. In Boston, she'll be among eight handcyclists accepted in this year's marathon.



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