Time for another runner spotlight! We want to introduce you to Vanessa Covington, an incredible woman, mom and dedicated fighter for our cause. Her daughter Martilee has Rett Syndrome. She is the creative mind behind the awesome hashtag #untilshecan. Vanessa embodies what we all strive for in the face of this big battle against Rett: passion and unwavering effort. Despite any and all challenges thrown her way, Vanessa stays the course and crosses each finish line (on the race course and in life) with resolve and loads of charisma.
"We are inspired by her strength, perseverance and courage! We appreciate all of the miles that Vanessa has logged while raising awareness along the way and are proud to have her on Team GP2C," shares Jen Tucker, GP2C Program Manager.
How did you get involved with GP2C?
I don't remember exactly how I first heard about GP2C. I do remember getting a packet in the mail from GP2C in 2008 or so. I immediately knew this was an organization I wanted to be a part of; a FAMILY I wanted to be a part of. I mean, who could resist that cute orange and pink flower?
What inspired you to become an athlete?
I was never an athlete growing up. In elementary P.E. I was one of the last to be picked for a team. I attempted volleyball and track in jr. high, but I certainly wasn't a star and decided sports weren't my thing. Fast Forward to 2012.... I saw some of my Rett Mom friends post on Facebook about running the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I saw pictures of them AFTER they had finished the race and they were still ALIVE! It sparked something in me and I decided I wanted to join the team in 2013. It wasn't pretty, but I laced up my shoes and started running!
What is your favorite part of running for Team GP2C?
Running for Team GP2C gives me purpose. Being a Rett Mom, I always feel like I'm not doing enough (not enough therapy, not enough communication, etc.); like I'm always leaving something undone. But I can go for a run and say "I'm done. I DID it!" It is a way for me to feel like I'm physically fighting this Rett battle.
What keeps you coming back?
Having a half marathon to run each February helps me stay motivated to keep training, but the real reason I keep coming back is the Rett family. I consider the Disney Princess Weekend my Rett Family Reunion. Spending time with other Rett Moms (and Dads and siblings and grandparents...) is amazing. We see each other at our worst (a bunch of hot, sweaty messes) after the race and yet we still love on each other.
What would you tell other people that are thinking about joining Team GP2C?
Do it! You won't regret it. I'm not saying it will be easy. The training will be tough.... The fundraising takes work.... But it will be so worth it! Don't worry if you've never run before. Start by just going around the block. Don't worry if you aren't fast. Like they say, a 12 minute mile is just as far as a 6 minute mile. I'm still proud of my 12 minute miles!
Share a few lines of your favorite running song at the moment!
I don't run with music. I like to listen to what is going on around me. I've been stopped in my tracks by the beautiful sound of birds singing. I love to hear the leaves rustling. I listen to the rhythm of my steps. If I did listen to music it would be Breathe by Johnny Diaz - "Ready, set go... It's another wild day... When the stress is on the rise in my heart I hear you say... Breathe... Just breathe..."
What would be a perfect afternoon for you?
My perfect afternoon would include a porch swing, coffee or sweet tea and a good book!
Share one quote or saying that inspires you to keep going.
Until she can.... Until she can... I repeat that as I'm running. I actually came up with #untilshecan during a difficult run a couple winters ago. It was cold, I hurt, and I just wanted to quit. I started thinking about why I was running and everything Martilee goes through on a daily basis. I told myself right then, "I will run...#untilshecan!" That phrase motivates me and I love how it motivates so many others now, too.
Team GP2C is standing strong together and know that one day Vanessa will walk / run with her daughter, Martilee! We are all in this together #untilshecan!