LaBaw runs through town on epilepsy awareness trip
A light drizzle didn’t deter Jenny LaBaw from cruising into Glenwood Springs right on schedule Monday afternoon, nor did it dampen the spirits of the crowd that gathered at Valley View Hospital to welcome her.
LaBaw, a prominent CrossFit athlete who was diagnosed with epilepsy at age 8, grew up in Rifle and spent a lot of time at the hospital, where her mother worked.
“It’s really fun to see so many familiar faces,” she told an assembly of employees bearing purple balloons. “The staff at Valley View Hospital helped me when I was a little girl struggling through some really hard times.”
LaBaw’s arrival in her home county represents the midpoint of her 500-mile run across Colorado. Titled “Move Mountains,” it takes her from the New Mexico border near Durango to the Wyoming border near Steamboat Springs in an attempt to raise money and awareness.
“I’ve gone through some of the most beautiful country in Colorado,” she said.
On Sunday, LaBaw stopped in Carbondale for an event at Sopris CrossFit, which contributed $7,000 to her $50,000 goal on crowdrise.com. By Tuesday night she expects to be home in Rifle. After a rest day there, she’ll depart with further ceremony Thursday morning.
While she’s committed to the cause, her 260-mile voyage in just over two weeks hasn’t been easy.
“It’s been so much more than I could have imagined. My body, brain and spirit have been up and down and all around, but I always try to begin and end the day on a positive note,” she said. “The stories that I’ve heard and the people who have reached out to me keep one foot going in front of the other.”
Since one in 26 people is diagnosed with epilepsy, there’s no shortage of stories.
Take Domenica Smith, a receptionist at the hospital who took the opportunity to meet LaBaw.
“It’s a very real struggle,” she said. “Fortunately, I’m able to live a normal life. If you can control your seizures, there isn’t really a limit to what you can do.”
Smith said it made all the difference that her parents never doubted her and supported her through thick and thin.
LaBaw’s mother, Cathy Desautels, is also her biggest fan.
“Nothing stops her. She’s been such a determined person all of her life,” Desautels said. “I couldn’t be prouder of her.”
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