Doctors told Austin Prario’s parents in 1997 that the then-infant would never be able to run a marathon due to a rare congenital heart defect, but two decades later Prario has proven them wrong by successfully completing this year’s Boston Marathon.
And the story behind the successful quest is quite inspiring. See, Austin, 19, suffers from double inlet, single left ventricle with transposition of the greater arteries, a defect that leads to only one pumping ventricle in the heart, though Austin currently has three functioning chambers.
Over his short life, the young man has had three surgeries to try and repair the condition — something doctors said early on would be essential if he wanted to live a normal life.
“(One doctor) told us that with surgery, Austin could lead a normal life, but that he would never be a varsity athlete or be able to finish something like the Boston Marathon,” Austin’s dad Dave Prario told Runner’s World.
— Samantha Fenlon (@SFenlonABC6) April 17, 2017
But as the years wore on and Austin became increasingly interested in athletics, he started to wonder whether he might be able to run a long race like the Boston Marathon. After all, his dad had run the race less than a year after his birth, carrying then 10-month old Austin over the finish line. A photo of that touching moment has always inspired Austin.
So, when he asked his doctor last summer if it might be possible for him to run the marathon, the physician said it would be tough, and recommended he give himself two years to try and train for the 26.2-mile run.
Austin, of course, had other plans, setting out the compete in this year’s race instead of waiting until 2018.
“I didn’t want to wait two years,” Austin told Runner’s World, noting that he started training right away. “When I ran 18, he realized it was something I could do.”
Austin set up a fundraiser through Boston Children’s Hospital Trust, setting a goal of raising $20,000 to benefit the hospital. Accompanying the fundraiser was an explainer detailing his personal back story as well as his quest to successfully complete the grueling Boston Marathon.
“Even before birth the doctors had given me a prognosis that suggested that I would be small and petite, with a strong likelihood of physical delays,” Austin explained. “This rather bleak outlook came in mid-April of 1997 during one of our numerous pre-birth visits to Boston, which just so happened to coincide with the annual running of one of our nation’s most storied athletic events-the Boston Marathon.”
He continued, “Perhaps it was this backdrop that prompted one of the doctors to mention to my parents that while I may be able to have minimal participation in youth sports, I ‘would never be able to do something like run a marathon.'”
According to Austin, his dad said he’d end up crossing the finish line of that marathon “one way or another.”
And that’s what led to that inspirational photo of his father, Dave, carrying him over the finish line in 1998, as Dave participated in the run to help raise money for Boston Children’s Hospital, where Austin was delivered and treated.
On Monday, Austin’s dream came true, as he successfully completed the race and once again crossed the finish line — this time due to his own running efforts. He’s likely the first person in history with his heart condition ever to do so.
“It will be an unofficial world record, but I don’t think that counts because I’ll be the first person to do to it,” Austin told WLNE-TV.
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