Epileptic Rifle woman aims to run across state
Diagnosed with epilepsy at age 8, Rifle native Jenny LaBaw was told she’d never drive or do sports. Now 33 and a competitive CrossFit athlete, LaBaw is setting out to shatter people’s expectations.
“Our bodies can do more than we think they can,” said LaBaw, who departs Saturday on a 500-mile run across Colorado.
Her route will take her from the New Mexico border near Durango to the Wyoming border near Steamboat Springs. If all goes as planned, she’ll arrive in Aspen from Crested Butte on Oct. 1, stop in Carbondale for an event at Sopris CrossFit on Oct. 4, and take a break at home in Rifle on Oct. 7. The finish is slated for Oct. 19, leaving her a month to make the trip.
Titled “Move Mountains,” the run is backed by sponsors ranging from Carbondale’s True Nature to Reebok.
LaBaw has already raised money for the Epilepsy Foundation through a campaign at crowdrise.com/jennylabawmovemountains, and hopes her run will take the figure to at least $30,000. She also hopes to inspire those with epilepsy to overcome obstacles and live life to the fullest while also raising awareness among the unfamiliar or misinformed.
“I’ve always wanted to do something to get the word out,” said LaBaw. “There’s a really bad stigma, but one in 26 people have epilepsy, so chances are you know somebody.”
LaBaw suffers from simple partial seizures — a tingling in her right arm that sometimes escalates to something more severe.
“For 30 seconds to a minute I can’t use my right arm and have to just stop what I am doing,” she said in a description on her website, labawlife.com. “I don’t lose consciousness, but I do sort of get in my own world.”
Only once, when she was 14, did she experience the grand mal seizure many people associate with epilepsy. Since then, medication has kept the worst symptoms at bay.
She took to running to bolster her soccer performance in college. Later, she found she missed it and took to running races.
In preparing for the cross-state run, she’s learned to pace herself and save her strength.
“The common misconception with endurance training is that more is better, and then you’ve broken your body down by the time you get to the event,” she said.
In the end, it’s about much more than the run.
“I am going to be running 500 miles, one step at a time, for each person out there that needs someone to take that first single step with them. Someone that can inspire them to keep going. Someone that can give them the courage to stand up and rise above. Someone that will be there for them to cry on, relate to and grow with,” she wrote.
“I’m living the dream by being able to do this,” she said later. “It’s already a success without it even starting.”
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