A New York woman who cannot talk or walk didn’t let that stop her from competing in the Boston Marathon.
Ecuador native Onni Peck was diagnosed with a progressive muscular disease shortly after she was adopted, WGRZ-TV reported.
Mike and Donna Peck had already adopted Onni’s brother when they received a call saying his little sister needed a home as well. Without hesitation, the couple traveled to Ecuador to pick up their new daughter.
“We were basically called by God,” Donna Peck said.
After Onni was diagnosed, her parents signed her up for therapeutic horseback riding classes, which brought out what her father calls her “competitive spirit.” Onni was such a natural that she won a medal in the Special Olympics.
But eventually, it became harder for Onni to ride as her disease progressed and she could no longer remain upright on her own.
Onni was able to continue her love for sports by helping her father train for triathlons and road races, during which he would push her in a special wheelchair.
The pair even competed together through Ainsley’s Angels, a local organization in Fairport, New York, that supports athletes with disabilities.
Being able to participate in events such as 5k races and triathlons is “extremely exciting” for Onni, her father said.
“It’s participating with her peers,” Mike Peck said. “It’s inclusion.”
It was through Ainsley’s Angels that Onni found her perfect racing partner, Marie Boudreau-Ninkov.
The pair first tackled the Marine Corps marathon in Washington, D.C., clocking in at 4 hours and eight minutes, and becoming the first all-female team to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Propelled by the exciting momentum of the Marine Corps marathon, they went on to compete in the elite race in 2017.
The opportunity has been rewarding for Onni, whose physical abilities continue to wane as the disease progresses.
“It’s infectious,” Mike Peck said of his daughter’s champion smile.