The countdown to Rio is on for athletes around the world, and that includes a Chicagoan who at one time wondered if she would ever walk again, let alone compete!
Meet Hailey Danisewicz: her illness took a lot from her, but couldn't touch her competitive spirit.
As a teenager, Hailey fought and beat her bone cancer, only to lose the leg it affected. At that age, you have to imagine how devastating that could be, but if you think it kept her down, think again.
“Had a really normal childhood. Sports were my life as a kid,” Hailey said.
That all changed with she was just 12 years old. Hailey was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer below her knee. What followed was chemotherapy, several surgeries to try and remove the tumor and more to reconstruct her leg.
“And that was all successful in that it put my cancer into remission, but it left me with a leg I couldn't really use,” Hailey said.
Two years later, she had it amputated and had all but given up her love for sports. But that competitive fire continued to burn.
“There's a cleat on the bottom of the foot that attaches to the pedal so the bike itself is not adapted in any type of way,” Hailey said.
While in college, an organization called ‘Dare to Try’ challenged her to do a triathlon.
“Even though I had no real experience, didn't know what I was doing, I just kinda threw myself into all three at once and ended up totally loving it,” Hailey said.
And now, she's going for gold and in the para-triathalon, making her debut in the 2016 Paralympics.
“Rio was always kind of on my radar, but at the very beginning I didn't think it was a possibility for me,” Hailey said.
She’s proven it really is mind over matter. Hailey can do better with one leg than most of us dream of doing with two.
Hailey will be speaking at Soldier Field on Saturday as part of the American Cancer Society's Walk and Roll event. Cancer survivors and kids under 17 can register for free. The race kicks off at 10 a.m.
For more information on registering for the American Cancer Society Walk & Roll event this weekend, visit http://www.walkrollchicago.org.