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San Tan Valley Woman with Rare Condition to Participate in Boston Marathon with Help


In a heartwarming turn of events, a San Tan Valley woman, despite her inability to run or speak due to a rare seizure disorder, is set to participate in the upcoming Boston Marathon. Riley, 23, has been facing the daily challenges of her condition, which leaves her unable to walk or talk and experiencing multiple seizures daily. Yet, with the support of her community and advancements in mobility technology, she is ready to take on the storied marathon route.

Tom Gray, Riley's father, shared his pride and joy in witnessing his daughter's resilience. "It was incredible and just brought out different emotions in me that I didn't know I had," said Gray, reflecting on the journey since Riley's diagnosis. The loving father is deeply moved by the support and opportunities that have enabled his daughter to live a fuller life despite her condition.

The community has rallied around Riley, providing a specialized wheelchair that allows her to participate in marathons. Eric Larson, a family friend and Riley's running buddy for the past two years, will be pushing her every step of the way in Boston. Larson expressed his enthusiasm for sharing his passion for running with Riley, highlighting the joy it brings to both of their lives. "I love running so much, and then to be able to share that and give that to somebody who is unable to do that on their own is just great," Larson stated.

Riley's participation is not just about crossing another finish line; it's a testament to her spirit and the community's dedication to inclusivity in sports. Her home in San Tan Valley is adorned with a quilt stitched together from shirts from the marathons she has participated in, symbolizing her remarkable journey.

As Riley and Larson prepare to head to Boston, the excitement is palpable. The challenge of the course looms, but the duo is eager to tackle it head-on. "It's a challenging course. It'll be even more challenging with Riley, but we're looking forward to tackling it," Larson added.

The focus for Riley is not just on adding to her medal collection but on experiencing the joy and pride that come with each race. "She'll hold on to her medal for hours. It's about putting a smile on her face and seeing her show off her signature move during a race of a lifetime," Gray shared, emphasizing the deep emotional impact these events have on his daughter.

As the Boston Marathon approaches, all eyes will be on this dynamic duo as they demonstrate the power of determination and the profound bond between an athlete and her champion. The San Tan Valley community and beyond are cheering for Riley and Eric, hopeful for good weather and a safe, fulfilling race.

The Boston Marathon will be held tomorrow, April 15, 2024.

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Saturday, 13 July 2024

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