To advance the independence, productivity, and full citizenship of people with cerebral palsy and other disabilities.
Running to Her Dreams
For years Jessica Rodriguez never really spoke about the fact that she had cerebral palsy. But after running her first full marathon she wants others to know that they can do anything that they put their minds to.
The 31-year-old Shirley resident recently ran the 26.2 mile Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon in November and raised $1,000 from family and friends to support UCP of Suffolk programs and services. “I was very embarrassed about having cerebral palsy for a long time,” Rodriguez said. “I always thought that people would ask questions, make fun of me or pity me.”
She decided to tell the world about her condition when she was preparing to run The Diva’s Half Marathon in 2013. “My friend was making shirts for the marathon and said that my shirt should say that I run for cerebral palsy,” she said. “When I did it, it felt pretty good and people were telling me that I was inspirational.”
Diagnosed with cerebral palsy when she was two, Rodriguez never let it hinder her. She was very active as a child and has run a number of half marathons in recent years. She said that running her first full marathon was an amazing experience. “It was a lot of fun,” she laughed. “There were times when I was rethinking doing it, but I pushed on and it was all worth it.”
Rodriquez is now preparing to run the New York City Half Marathon in March 2015 and hopes to continue to push others to follow their dreams. “I just want to keep running and inspiring people to do what they love, even when they think they can’t do it,” she said.
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