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Former Marathon Runner Still Sprints Through Challenges

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Sarah Witt, 39, was once a reporter and a runner. She has a husband and two young children. And now she has a wheelchair and a laptop that speaks for her.

"In the spring of 2004, I had these weird sensations on my left side," Witt said to WRAL with the aid of a speech synthesizer.

Doctors told Witt that her symptoms were all in her mind, until one finally diagnosed her correctly with motor neuron disease, a condition similar to ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

"On the one hand, I felt relief that someone was finally listening to me," said Witt. "On the other hand, I felt terrified."

Two months ago, the incurable and progressive disease took Witt's speech. Her husband, Jeff, said he's helping her move through the symptoms a little bit at a time.

"I focus on getting through the day and on keeping life as normal as possible," she said.

Sarah Witt hasn't run away from life. In fact, she has organized the Magnificent Mile Races this weekend in Raleigh, which has so far raised $20,000 for research.

"I never dreamed it would take off like this," she said.

It has been an unexpected journey. But in some ways, Sarah Witt still is the runner she was, facing the road ahead with determination.

"I've learned that life can be completely different than what you thought it would be, yet still be OK," she said. "I've also learned to live more in the moment, because that's truly all we have, and that's a good thing."

The Magnificent Mile Races will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. at North Carolina State's Centennial Campus. The event features a one-mile competitive run and a one mile fun-run and walk.


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