A Runner Makes History as One of the First Women With Down Syndrome to Complete 10-Hour NYC Marathon
Last weekend, a historic moment unfolded as 33-year-old Kayleigh Williamson became one of the first women with Down syndrome to successfully complete the New York City Marathon. Her mother Sandy Williamson, who ran by her daughter’s side, shared that the 10-hour journey was filled with dancing, warm hugs, and countless high-fives.
This isn’t her first marathon.
Kayleigh is no newcomer to the world of running. She has previously completed the Boston Marathon, 21 miles of the Austin Marathon, and an impressive 20 half-marathons. Kayleigh’s journey into running began in 2017 when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “I implemented some healthy lifestyle choices,” Sandy explained, “Kayleigh wanted to do some races with me.”
Since then, Sandy says that her daughter has developed a deep love for running. Kayleigh and Sandy have upcoming plans, including a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day and half-marathons in December, January, and February. Kayleigh sums up her love for running by saying, “I like to run because it makes me feel happy.”
Kayleigh participated in the marathon to honor her grandmother, who sadly passed away in 2021.
Her journey held a deep significance as it allowed her to fulfill a cherished dream of her late grandmother. Her grandma often spoke about taking her to New York City to see the holiday lights, and this marathon marked Kayleigh’s first time in the state. To honor her grandma and raise Alzheimer’s awareness, Kayleigh wore a shirt that read, “Running in memory of my grandma, memories matter, Alzheimer’s awareness.”
Kayleigh’s mom is endlessly proud of her.
Reflecting on her daughter’s experience at the New York City Marathon, Sandy, 56, expressed, “New York changed the way I saw my daughter. Every time she heard music she stopped to dance. It was very emotional for her at the end, the last two miles.”
She further added, “But then someone turned up music on their phone and she would dance a little. Then she would cry. Her muscles were sore and they were bothering her. Things like that. But Kaylee didn’t stop. She didn’t want to give up.”
Another person who has undoubtedly made history is Madeline Stuart, a supermodel with Down syndrome and autism. Her journey was filled with numerous challenges, and she has emerged as an inspiring role model for countless people.