WASHINGTON — Savannah Williams, of Spencerville, Maryland, doesn’t talk as much as most 13-year-old girls, but she says more with her feet than most teenagers can express.
“I like to run,” she whispers, as the bevy of medals she’s earned from finishing races since she was a little kid clang all over.
It’s a soft voice, filled with courage and determination.
Savannah was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a rare chromosomal disorder that affects a person intellectually and, especially, physically.
“I remember almost 13 years ago, the doctors told me that she would never be able to walk and talk,” her mother, Shameen Anthanio-Williams, said.
Savannah runs mile-long races, sometimes even a 5K. Her determination has her mother preparing to run the Marine Corps Marathon in an effort to raise money for Girls On The Run.
“They provide programs for young girls in elementary school and middle school, and through these programs they train twice a week,” Anthanio-Williams said. “They train for a 5K, and also have lessons during the week on confidence building, on learning about themselves, self-esteem.”
Savannah started in the program a few years ago.
“I thought it was just such a great program I had to support it. Any program that provides lessons on self-esteem, on confidence building, I think is a great program for our girls.”
Even though doctors said Savannah would never walk, much less run, she’s even been able to help her mom train for this race.
“She’ll come out and run with me for the short runs,” Anthanio-Williams said.
She says she’s using a basic marathon training program.
“I do short runs during the week; I also do some track work, and then during the weekends is when I do my long runs.”
It’s those short runs with Savannah that motivated her mother to put herself through some “gruesome” training for the longest run she’ll ever go on.
“She’s the wind beneath my wings,” Anthanio-Williams said. “To see her go out and do things that the doctors or her diagnosis says that she cannot do really builds my own confidence, and makes me know that if my daughter can do it I can do it.”
“I see her out there running races; I see her in the classroom doing her best to learn the math and the reading and all the assignments that are given her. So if she can do it I can do it. This program Girls On The Run … empowers our young girls. It did it for her. I say, ‘Why not support it?’ And so that’s why I’m doing it.”
Anthanio-Williams is raising funds through RacePlanner.