You may recognize Sanya Richards-Ross as the newest peach-holding cast member of the ever-popular Bravo “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” franchise, but for years the Olympic champion was known as the fastest woman in the world. The four-time Olympic gold medalist had nothing else to prove when she retired from track and field in 2016, but she joined forces with Disney to lace her sneakers back up for a 5K marathon during the Wine & Dine weekend at Walt Disney World.
Richards-Ross says she was ecstatic to be a part of the weekend which encouraged families to come together and get in some much needed physical exercise. “We know our children need to be more active, and what better way for parents to share that message than leading by example. Our kids need to see us getting out and moving so they will want to do the same. I loved seeing the families together walking and running at their own pace, just making memories,” Richards-Ross explained.
Hundreds signed up for the annual event which highlighted numerous survivors and health advocates with stories of overcoming adversities. Richards-Ross says she was honored to be among so many people all striving toward a common goal. “It was beautiful to see so many ages doing this together. There was an 85-year-old woman walking, and then you had 5-year-olds running alongside their parents,” she said.
Another example of inspiration was Stephanie Grosso, who was running the 5K marathon after undergoing open heart surgery two years ago at just 34 years old. After learning she suffered from a heart condition titled, bicuspid aortic valve, which put an enormous amount of stress on her heart, Grosso recovered and vowed to start long distance running. She says she intends to sign up for every Disney race she can make.
A sprinter by trade, she wasn’t sure if she was going to run the entire race but when she got to the starting line and felt the energy of everyone around her, she says she realized she was going to run the entire thing.
“Stephanie’s story was so inspiring and there were so many others. This was the best experience ever. Running through Epcot and seeing all the Disney characters and being on this long run with thousands of people was the perfect experience for my first 5K. So many people came up to the me on the course and were excited to see me out there running witht them. I wanted to inspire them but they truly inspired me,” she said.