ROANOKE, Va. - Thousands of people are getting ready for the annual Drumstick Dash in Roanoke on Thursday, including one local woman who has been waiting for an opportunity like this since she was a little girl.
Dianne Schwizer is getting final preps before the race, but it's a little more challenging for her than most.
"The best thing to do was to amputate and start over," Dianne said.
For decades, Dianne battled severe pain from a bone infection that fused her ankle into a solid bone.
"My family always tried to treat me like everyone else, but there were certain things I just couldn't do," Dianne said.
Her daughter, Jackie, said it impacted the whole family.
"There were so many things she couldn't do with us. And not that it took a toll, we always worked around it, but sometimes it was hard," Jackie said.
Doctors told Dianne the best option was amputation, so she made the life-changing decision last December. That’s also when she set a 3.1-mile goal to walk in this year's Drumstick Dash.
"I’ve never been able to walk that far because of the pain in my foot, so I had said last year, I said, 'I’m doing it next year. I'm doing it,'" Dianne said.
Through the ups and downs of recovery and getting used to a prosthetic leg, Dianne’s goal faded, until she started physical therapy at Lucas Therapies a couple months ago.
"She couldn't stand up from a chair comfortably, she couldn't do squats," Lucas Therapies physical therapy assistant Chris Osborne said.
After a couple weeks, Dianne told Osborne about her goal and he kicked her training up a notch.
"So even though it's bothering you, I want to try something today that's a little bit new that we haven't done," Osborne said.
When Dianne laces up Thursday, Chris and her family will be with her every step of the way.
"I thought well, this is the first time she's probably ever walked three miles, at least in my lifetime, that I wanted to be there alongside her to just watch," Jackie said.
"I think she's ready. Just once I think she gets past the nerves, she'll be good," Osborne said.
"They might have to carry me, but they will if they need to," Dianne said.
Dianne said she’s putting one foot in front of the other to achieve a dream she once thought was impossible.
"If I can do it, they can do it," Dianne said.
"She’s not a quitter and nobody else should be," Osborne said.
Her goals don't stop when she crosses the finish line Thursday.
"Maybe I’ll run it next year instead of walking. Maybe I won't be the last one over that finish line next year," Dianne said.
Dianne said she now has an extra reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving.
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