When 16 year old Taylor Webster of Williamsburg received a last minute phone call to participate in the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay in Kingston, she knew it was something she had to do.
Taylor has been living with chronic pain for the past year and seven months. Although now on the mend following surgery to her hip to repair a labral tear, the young athlete, who loves to run, spent recovery time in a wheel chair, before progressing to crutches and finally the return to walking on her own.
“I wanted to be part of the relay because of my leg,” says Taylor. “We looked it up and my mom put in the application.”
With some 8,000 Ontarians applying for 2,000 spots, the fact they didn’t hear from their application wasn’t surprising.
But then came the exciting phone call on Thursday, October 27, asking if Taylor would be able to participate in Kingston on Monday, October 31st.
It took a brief family discussion on the organization of it all, to confirm that indeed Taylor would be off to Kingston with her twin sister Jamie, cousin Ryan, her Aunt Nicki and her Grandpa Bill (Devaul).
“We left at five in the morning, and we were the first ones there,” says Taylor. “We met at a high school where we all gathered around in a circle and told the group why we were doing it.”
Following the introductions, the group was the focus of a school assembly.
“We did warm-up exercises and then were taken by bus to our area. I was runner number 15. I carried the medal and passed it to a lady from the Kingston area.”
The Rick Hansen Difference Maker Medal arrived in Kingston during the afternoon of October 30th. Its day ended at about 5 p.m. at a ceremony attended by Rick Hansen.
Monday morning, October 31, it was relayed to various Kingston locations until it left the city at noon for Belleville,
Taylor says that her hip problem has made her appreciative of the needs of people with spinal cord injuries.
Her Mom, Shelley Whitteker expresses her pride in Taylor’s battle and her desire to participate in the run. “It takes a lot of courage to do something like that on your own and stand out in a crowd.”
Taylor, who first experienced a “throbbing pain” in her hip in the spring of 2010, is a distance runner. She plays basketball, soccer and baseball and runs cross-country.
The pain intensified, coming and going, until it reached the point, “it didn’t go away.”
A first battery of tests at CHEO did not determine a cause, and Taylor was left to deal with the pain as best she could. When it became so intense, she was bed ridden, another battery of tests at CHEO located the labral tear.
Taylor is now recovering from surgery which required a tendon to be cut to repair the tear, and, says her mom, “she is finally on the road to recovery. Although she is still in pain, she is happy because there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
“She attends physio twice a week, and is finally getting back the physical part of her life. She started riding her bike last week, and hopes to be running cross- country again, very soon.”
Taylor sent out her application for the Rick Hansen Relay to help support and show others that there is hope.
She wants people to know that “whether you are in a wheel chair, crutches or in pain, you should never give up.”