EUGENE, Ore. -- As summer approaches, runners are setting their sights on the hundreds of races, 5Ks fun-runs and marathons taking place across the nation.
19-year-old Cheyanne Davis finished her first full marathon Saturday in Maryville, Missouri. Davis said she was running in honor of Casey Jo Nelson, a 22-year-old Eugene woman with Loeys-Dietz syndrome.
Davis met Casey Jo through the “I run 4” program, a group that believes running in tribute to someone with restricted mobility can increase motivation and open up a dialogue about disabilities.
“I had written a logo for the ‘I run 4’ group on my arm, and I put Casey Jo's name underneath,” Cheyanne said. “Every single time her name would swing by I got a glimpse of it, so it was like she was there with me.”
The movement started by runner Tim who ran for is friend Michael, who has Down syndrome. After seeing such a positive outcome for both Michael and himself, Tim asked the nation “who do you run for?”
For Cheyanne, that person is Casey Jo.
“To know that Casey Jo is 22 and has never walked or talked, it just kept me going,” said Cheyanne.
"I run 4" matches runners with people that have special needs. By the age of 6, Casey Jo had already had over 30 surgeries. Her mom, Lisa Gloster, said Casey Jo has exceeded doctor's expectations by living to see 22 years.
Casey Jo is now defying all odds by completing a marathon, all thanks to Davis.
“It's kind of … overwhelming that somebody cares that much,” said Gloster.
|Casey Jo Nelson (right) smiles as her mother, Lisa Gloster (left) talks about the "I run 4" program.|