Sullivan defies ‘impossible,’ enters, finishes race

Reina P. Cunningham reinacunningham@civitasmedia.com

May 8, 2014

The Claiborne County Race for School Health was held on Saturday at Harrogate City Park.

Among the participants was local author Candida Sullivan. Sullivan has become well known in the area for her children’s book series “Zippy” which encourages kids to stop bullying and embrace each other’s differences.

Born with amniotic band syndrome, Sullivan has been told that many things are impossible for her to do — recently she was told she was considered permanently disabled. The race for Sullivan was considered another impossible that she has overcome.  

Being able to complete this race has been an ongoing goal for the past three years — since Sullivan had to tell her son she couldn’t run the race with him. Although Sullivan’s sister Emily ran the race with her son, Sullivan still felt she had let him down.

“I’ve tried for years to run, but the formation of my foot is an obstacle I had yet to overcome,” explained Sullivan. “Usually it causes numbness in my legs, my knee to dislocate and a misalignment in my hip.”

Sullivan said she relied on her faith to try the run for her son.

“So I stepped out in faith and decided to at least try,” explained Sullivan.

She barely had begun the race when the formation of her foot began causing problems. Despite the pain, Sullivan refused to give up.

“At about half a mile in, my legs went numb but I refused to give up,” recalled Sullivan. “They felt so heavy and my feet hurt so bad.”

As she continued to run her pain intensified to the point where she felt defeated and was in tears.

“At mile 2 my rib dislocated. It was so hard to breath and the pain in my back and shoulder was almost unbearable,” continued Sullivan. “At this point the tears surfaced and I felt defeated.”

Instead of giving up, Sullivan prayed for strength.

“I prayed, God heard my cries and helped me. Emily started singing the Zippy theme song — The Best That You Can Be,” said Sullivan.

As Sullivan neared the finish line, she felt like she had nothing left and wouldn’t be able to make it.

“When we rounded the corner and could see the finish line, Emily said, ‘This is it. Finish strong,’” said Sullivan. “Even though I felt I had nothing left to give, my heart took over and God blessed me to finish my first 5K.”

Tears of joy streamed down her face as she realized she had accomplished another impossible.

“As I went across the finish line, I sobbed. I hugged my sister and experienced the blissful moment of happy tears,” said Sullivan. “God showed me that if I keep my eyes on Him, nothing is out of my reach.”

For more information on the race, contact Richie Hoskins at the Claiborne County Board of Education at 423-626-3543.

Reina P. Cunningham may be reached at 606-302-9100.