On Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022, Special Olympics Illinois athlete, Bree, completed the Bank of America Chicago Marathon along with 40,000 fellow running enthusiasts.

Bree said, “My determination and my love to run and wanting to achieve something this big kept me motivated.” During the race, she received messages of encouragement from her friends and family via her Apple Watch.

Bree was also inspired to see others with and without disabilities running with the same goals: to finish and achieve. “I kept thinking about a student I work with who cannot run. I felt like I was doing it for her,” said Bree. She also wanted to finish the race for herself, knowing that it would help her both physically and mentally.

"I just tried to run as consistently as I could, which was good for me personally," said Bree, "I wanted to do a marathon in 2020 but couldn't due to COVID-19, then I couldn't run last year due to being in and out of the hospital. I'm so glad I was able to do it this year!"

Throughout the training process, Bree focused mostly on consistency, mental health, and listening to her body. In addition to going for runs, she also utilized cross training and getting plenty of rest.

“My advice is that if this is something you want to do, you have to commit. Running 26.2 miles is not something everyone can or wants to do. I am very proud of myself,” she said. Bree finished her first-ever marathon in 4:34:40 – an impressive feat!

Bree started with Special Olympics Illinois at the age of nine in rhythmic gymnastics. She says that playing sports makes her feel powerful and like she can do anything. "Special Olympics gives people with disabilities a chance to succeed in life," she added.