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Unstoppable — Conception Bay South woman runs every day despite epilepsy, celiac disease

Keaira Lawrence-Pond (left) nominated her mother, Tracy Lawrence (right), for the Dr. John Williams Award at this year’s Tely 10. The annual award is given to a race participant who inspires others through enthusiastic and spirited participation in the annual event. —
Keaira Lawrence-Pond (left) nominated her mother, Tracy Lawrence (right), for the Dr. John Williams Award at this year’s Tely 10. The annual award is given to a race participant who inspires others through enthusiastic and spirited participation in the annual event. — Juanita Mercer/The Telegram

Tracy Lawrence was named the 2019 Dr. John Williams Award winner

The 2019 Dr. John Williams Award winner has every excuse not to run, yet she does it every single day.

When Tracy Lawrence runs, it can feel like driving a car with a flat tire on one side. That’s because she has epilepsy and suffers from hemiplegic migraines — the kind that mimic a stroke — as well as hemiparesis, a weakness on one side of the body.

“Because of my medical issues, there’s been times when I’ve ran and I’ve actually had a seizure — like a mini seizure — so, I had to pause for a moment, or take a break for a minute, and just stop and walk it off, and then get up and go again,” said the 48-year-old Conception Bay South resident.

On stage at the Tely 10 on Sunday, her 12-year-old daughter, Keaira Lawrence-Pond, said “not even the Newfoundland weather” can stop her mother from running.

That’s why Keaira nominated her mom for the award, which is given annually to a Tely 10 participant who inspires others through enthusiastic and spirited participation in the road race.

“I just thought that she deserved something nice like that award for all her hard work, and for encouraging me and my sister and everybody else.”

In fact, this marked the fourth year that the mother and daughter completed the race together.

In her nomination letter, Keaira said her mother never stops “inspiring me to do my best.”

“I just thought that she deserved something nice like that award for all her hard work, and for encouraging me and my sister and everybody else.” — Keaira Lawrence-Pond

Last year, Lawrence encouraged even more people to walk or run when she founded a walk for epilepsy research called Seize the Day 5K, donating funds to Epilepsy Canada. She’s planning to hold the event again next June.

On top of it all, Keaira said her mother was also recently diagnosed with celiac disease.

“And not even that has stopped her.”

She said her mother had to adjust to a gluten-free diet, “which means no more pasta before a race.”

Running has been a lifelong passion for Lawrence, who participated in the sport as a teenager but stopped after having her first child. Lawrence returned to running at age 43 because she says it improves her health.

“It reduces stress, and some of the stress that I get causes seizures, so it reduced the amount of seizures I was having.”

Lawrence said she felt “honoured, overwhelmed and excited” about receiving the award, and Keaira said she also felt good seeing her mom on the stage at Bannerman Park.

“I felt happy because she was happy.”

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

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