February 16, 2017
By Steve Helm
As more than 18,000 people get ready to line the streets this Sunday for the Austin Marathon, history will be made even before anyone crosses the finish line. SOTX athlete Kayleigh Williamson’s entry in this event marks the breaking of a barrier, as she will be the first Down Syndrome participant to run the half marathon in the race’s 26-year history.
Williamson, 26, has been an SOTX athlete since 2001. She got involved with track and bowling through Austin ISD. Currently, she participates in swimming and continues to run competitively.
Over the years, Williamson has competed in many 5K's, including numerous Run with the Heroes and the former Chuy's 5K.
This Sunday will not be the first time that Williamson will set a milestone. In November, Kayleigh became the first Special Olympics athlete to complete the 10-mile race at the Run for the Water event in Galveston. While that race is memorable for her in that regard, it was not the easiest one she completed.
With only a mile left, Kayleigh had a complete breakdown. There were not any more water stops, so her mother Sandy ran ahead to get her some. Soon after that, a golf cart with three paramedics offered to give Kayleigh a ride to the finish line with about less than a half a mile to go, but she refused. She wanted to finish on her own. By the time Kayleigh and Sandy made it to the finish line, the official marker had been taken down, but the race committee created one for her, bringing Sandy to tears.
After they finished, Kayleigh was in a lot of pain. Because of that, Sandy got Kayleigh involved with RunLab, as way to create a new training regimen for her.
Since March of 2016, she has worked with trainer Gabriel Lucio. To get herself ready for Sunday’s half marathon, she has also been working with Dr. Kimberly Davis at the RunLab twice a week. Williamson also finds time to put in the miles while at home at least three times a week.
All eyes will be on Kayeligh this Sunday. Special Olympics Texas wishes her luck for safe and successful race!