Mena Hawkins, a 17-year-old high school junior at Liberty High School with cerebral palsy, finished the one-mile Las Vegas Great Santa Run using her walker.
Typically, Mena uses a wheelchair and she can’t walk without help from her walker, which she used during the Great Santa Run.
CNN reported that Mena finished the race in 38 minutes, according to the girl’s father, Roger Hawkins. It was a family affair — her grandmother flew from England to see Mena finish and the teenager’s family and friends walked with her holding signs that said, “Go Mena.” According to CNN, a team of cheerleaders greeted Mena when she finished the race.
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Mena has done this race before. Six years ago, she participated in the Great Santa Run but it took her so long to finish, the roads opened back up and she had to finish on the sidewalk with her dad accompanying her, according to CNN.
“I felt like it was a huge achievement,” Mena told CNN, and so she promised herself that she would try again. She did this year and has been training since last March. She has been walking long distances and lifting free weights in the gym.
But Mena didn’t just race for herself. Before the Great Santa Run, she fundraised money for Opportunity Village, a non-profit that aids people with disabilities in finding work and other services, CNN reported.
She also hopes that her story of achievement will inspire other people with disabilities to pursue goals that they have.
“Be confident in yourself,” the teenager told CNN. “Achieve your end goal. And be happy about it.”