A Deaf Person with Usher Syndrome ran in Paw Paw Chicago Marathon
My name is Kelly Monahan, and I am from Mokena, Illinois. I am deaf-blind (usher syndrome type 1), a single mother of two amazing sons, have loving pets, and I am a part-time college student. I am a former student at Illinois School for the Deaf in Jacksonville, Illinois from 1989-1994. In 1994, I went to the National Technology Institute for the Deaf in New York majoring in printing. I have no explanation of how I became deaf or contracted Usher Syndrome when I was born. Today, my vision field is limited with blindness in dim/dark areas and night time. My communication methods are American Sign Language and Tactile.
I love running! A few years ago, I started to attend a gym and run on a treadmill. At first, I couldn’t run on a treadmill without my one hand holding on the handle because I have a balance problem. It was difficult at first, then I got used to it everyday. I started to walk and jog outside more and I find myself enjoying that. In May 2009, my first race was in Frankfort, Illinois to support funds for the school district. There were a small number of runners but I ran along with my dad for about four miles. I ran behind my dad, so I can see my dad’s back where he was going to avoid bumping into runners. In April 2010, my dad and I ran the Sharmock Shuffle 8K in Chicago downtown along with a large number of runners. It was a big challenging race. I followed my dad all the way to the finish line. During our run, my dad usually got my attention to watch out for a step on the curve of the street. A few times, there were some dark tunnels that we had to run through. I put my hand on my dad’s back to avoid tripping or bumping into runners. It was so important to have someone on my side for my safety while I was not familiar with the area. I have participated in many races lately . So far, in the races, I ran on my own twice and the other races, I ran with dad, siblings and my kids. On July 2, 2011, a mini race was held in Orland Park, Illinois. My eleven and twelve year old sons’ first ran with me about 3 miles. It was such a joyful experience running with them. I enjoy the experience of the challenge and enjoy the view of the scenery.
On September 25, 2011, Paw Paw Chicago race 8k run, I ran with my first deaf and A.S.L. friend, Oralia (Gutierrez) Lomanto (’95), and it was her first time experience in the race. I wore a t-shirt with the words “deaf-blind runner” on the back. I thought it would help runners to recognize that I am deaf-blind runner to avoid bumping into me. We ran during the heavy rain and it was little slippery. There was bump on the trail that I didn’t notice, I almost tripped over. It was exhausting and difficult challenging race. The important thing, we made to the finish line. Reaching the finish line is always the best feeling.
My dream goal is a half marathon orthe 26.2 marathon one day but my hope is to find an A.S.L runner who will train and run with me. I have a great faith and belief that I can do anything that is possible through Jesus Christ. Anyone can do it and I can do it!