BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (WLS) --For many people, running is not only a way to keep in shape, it's also an important part of their social lives.
A local runner is now inspiring more people to run than she could ever imagine. She is from Bourbonnais - an unlikely marathon runner with special needs. Now she's quickly becoming a nationally-known athlete, and her face is being seen on newsstands from coast-to-coast.
For Kiley Lyall and her mother Kathleen, running is an important part of daily their lives. That in itself is rather remarkable.
"She's diagnosed with autism and cerebral palsy and she has severe seizure disorder too. So her initial start out with walking was very difficult. She probably didn't entirely walk without falling down until she was three," Kathleen said.
Kiley is a bit shy verbally, but her mom said that once this little lady was about 8, she started running with Special Olympics and never slowed down - except during a major medical crisis.
"She has an implant in her chest to help control the seizures. After one of the seizures she got extremely sick on us. And she really struggled with muscle tone. She could barely walk. It was kind of close. We thought we were going to lose her for a little bit," Kathleen said.
But Kiley bounced back. It was that kind of determination which caught the attention of fellow runners. They sent her story to a national magazine which was searching for inspirational people. And just last month, Kiley got a call.
And with that, the Lyalls were jetted off to San Diego for a whirlwind tour and photoshoot. The result, the cover of "Women's Running" magazine and a feature spread inside the publication - making her the first runner living with autism to be honored this way.
"The biggest thing for us is that it promotes the abilities of these kids with disabilities and there is so much they can accomplish if people give them a chance to do it," Kathleen said.
And what started as therapy and something fun to do has now become both a passion and a mission for this very proud young woman.
"She just wants to be included as a runner and for people to contact us and tell us how inspirational she is and that they are happy she she's running, that's all she wants," Kathleen said.
As part of the magazine cover contest, Kiley gets to run in races all across the country. She is so excited about meeting so many new people. Almost as proud as she is of this magazine cover, which she autographed for me.
Kiley's edition of "Women's Running" magazine is on newsstands now. For more information, visit www.womensrunning.com or www.runrocknroll.com.