With her jaw set and her hair bobbing up and down with every stride, Katie Jenkins ran on Wednesday.
It might not sound like an extraordinary feat, but for Jenkins it was the first time in nine years the former cross country and track athlete has been able to actually run. That’s because of a debilitating car crash injury in 2009 that ultimately led to Jenkins deciding to have her right leg removed below the knee.
It’s been a little over a year since her amputation, and Jenkins is back on two feet — albeit one is artificial — but the thing she wanted to do most was to be able to run again. Now, with a new running blade made by Ossur, a prosthetics company that builds high-tech limbs for amputees, she’s back on the track.
“This is where it began,” she said, looking around the track at Daniel Boone High School and nearly out of breath from a few sprints on her new running blade.
Before she took the first real run, Jenkins jumped up and down, took a few high steps and then took off. She said it was like someone gave her air for the first time.
Her first running partner was her 5-year-old son, Jacob, then she took a run with her high school coach, George Moody.
“I can now run faster than my son. I can keep up with him,” Jenkins said.
Jacob thought it was really cool — “For a while mommy couldn’t run and now she can always do a race with her iron leg,” he said. He gave his mom a rose and when asked how it felt to run with her, he said, “Great, and I love her.”
Jenkins’ journey to return to running began Nov. 10, 2009 at 9:05 p.m., when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver. The crash left her body broken, and it took eight months for her to walk again. Even then, every step was painful. And it was that pain that led Jenkins to the tough decision to have her leg removed last year.
Since then, she’s dealt with some lingering issues, but is now walking on a prosthetic leg. Still, she wanted that feeling she had when she could run. Fortunately for her, working at Victory Orthotics helped her find the avenue to obtain the running blade that will get her back on the trail.
Jenkins was overcome with emotion as she took several sprints down the track and back, and said it was like having her lungs filled with air again.