Power of Running- Stephanie's Story

Stephanie Zundel's Story

I am from New Jersey. I am a senior at Vanderbilt University majoring
in child studies and minoring in special education and sociology. At
the age of three, I went blind due to a severe allergic reaction to
Children's Motrin. I ended up getting a sickness called Stevens
Johnson Syndrome (SJS). SJS is a condition where the immune system
turns on itself and burns the body from the inside out. Although
blindness can sometimes be a pain, it has not stopped me from anything
I set my mind and heart to. Ever since I was a little kid, I always
loved participating in sports and athletic activities. I have been
doing boxing since I was ten years old. I have a junior and senior
black belt in white tiger kempo. Running is something I got into
pretty recently. During my sophomore year of college, my roommates
signed up for the Country Music half marathon. I was not very good at
running at all. I could barely run one mile, but I begrudgingly
agreed. During my training, I met a friend at a convention I went to
for the National Federation of the Blind and she told me about
Achilles. I thought it sounded like an awesome organization, so I
decided to join. Achilles is a running group for people with
disabilities. Since then, I have done many races including 5Ks, 10Ks,
15Ks, and half marathons. On November 6, I will be running my first
marathon in New York City. I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to
run the New York marathon. Achilles has been such a huge part of my
life. The volunteer guides don't treat the athletes any differently
because they have disabilities. The athletes also support the
volunteer guides in return, helping guides new to running reach new
goals and new distances. The community is extremely supportive, and
the other athletes have been instrumental in inspiring me toward my
running goals. I am so honored to be recognized as a winner for the
"Power of Running to Inspire," but it is through Achilles that running
has been able to inspire me!

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