From the moment he was born three-and-a-half months early, Bostonian Justin O’Connell has had occupational, physical and speech therapy for his disability. His body could fit into the palm of a hand.
“I had to have a metal rod put in my back on June 26, 2006 because my body was starting to curve,” he says. “And if you don’t do any treatment it can impact heart, lungs, all of your legs and if you don’t have any treatment it can eventually kill you or put you in a wheelchair.”
O’Connell had to relearn how to stand, sit, and walk after his back surgery. He formed a group called Team Justin a year later to raise money and awareness for children in the Boston hospital.
“Our first year we did a one-mile walk and after that I decided I wanted to get my body in better shape,” he says.
He decided to sign up for his first 5k and fell in love with the sport. He worked his way up to a 10k and eventually half-marathons. He’s run in seven marathons since his first in 2013, including the Houston and Waxahachie marathons.
“When you have a positive attitude you can do anything. Nothing is ever impossible,” he says.
Written by Amber Chavez.