You know when you come across those stories that just inspire the heck out you? That make you feel so, so, so grateful? And prove that you can do anything if you put your mind to it? And that — despite what’s going on in the news — people are inherently so good and so full of love and giving and caring?
Yeah, us, too.
Which is why when we heard about Gabby and her mom Hayley, we just knew that we had to share their story.
Gabby is a running “Kid Coach” for Miracle Challenge 2016, a 27-day wellness challenge that encourages you to achieve fitness goals, while fundraising for kids in your Children’s Miracle Network Hospital. (It’s awesome. Check it out here.) But being able to run isn’t something she’s ever taken for granted. It’s something that her and her mother have had to fight for.
At just the age of six, doctors discovered that Gabby’s airway was just the size of an infant’s and she was desperately struggling to breathe. She had developed bacterial tracheitis, which often follows the flu or an upper respiratory infection and had to have emergency surgery and was placed into a medically induced coma. Following diagnosis, her narrowed airway required two additional scope procedures and regular visits to the pulmonary clinic at Dayton Children’s Hospital.
But did that stop Gabby? Heck to the no. After much hard work, dedication and training by her mom, Hayley, who is a personal trainer — as you’ll read about below — Gabby has gone on to play center middle for a select soccer team and runs a 6-minute mile! (Do you know how fast that is? SO FAST.)
We recently chatted with Gabby and Hayley about all of that and more. Read on for a Q&A that’ll be sure to inspire you to get moving and running today!
Q&A With Gabby and Hayley
How did exercise help save Gabby’s life? Exercise has enabled Gabby to overcome her anatomical abnormalities of which in conditions of stress and/or illness could have caused death. Her life-threatening condition has greatly improved with her dedication to exercise for the past seven years. Gabby has dedicated a huge chunk of her time to being fit for life and in turn has become a great soccer player.
So do you have advice for other moms with children going through similar health abnormalities? I would tell them while it isn’t easy and might take a lot of time and determination every day, to keep the end goal in mind, even and especially when their child can’t. Gabby would cry and temporarily hurt when she was pushed physically, but we knew even though it was painful and time consuming, recognizing the importance of strenuous physical activity would greatly increase her chances of a healthy and long life! The added bonus is that she gets to live out her passion in playing soccer. When I began running with her at age 7, she could barely run at all — and now runs about 5 miles on average every single soccer game she plays!
How do you make sure to take time for you and your health? Do you guys run and/or play soccer together as a family, too? As far as how do we make time? Our family has always been physically active; it’s not a matter of making time for us, it is a priority! When I asked her pulmonology doctor years ago what I could do to help, he answered that she should stay as physically active as possible and we just went with it! I am a trainer and my husband is a runner, our older children played soccer and we love competition! We would make up obstacle courses in the backyard, run and got Gabby involved on higher level soccer teams that included specialized training immediately. Currently Gabby sees a trainer four times a week for rigorous group-training sport-specific sessions to soccer with practices with her team two to three times a week. She has five to six tournament college showcases this season, state cup competition and her league schedule. All total, about 30 games. Soccer for her is year round and she uses her inhaler, takes medication daily and is very dedicated.
I would like to add that we try to work out together as a family at least once a week but it is getting more difficult the older and more busy she gets. Gabby has a regimen of specific drills and touches her coach gave her a year ago that she does on her own to continually improve every touch she makes with the ball. I still teach and participate in classes/training seven to nine times a week and my husband runs and works out at home. Staying active is a commitment to all of us and we are thrilled to share our experiences.
Feeling as inspired as we are? Let Gabby coach you and get fit while you give back by taking the Miracle Challenge here! And check out another inspiring story over on Fit Bottomed Mamas here. (And a big thanks to these two ladies for sharing their story!) —Jenn