Katie Maneen took up running two years ago, but she’s already qualified for two Paralympics national championships.
Maneen, of Frankfort, didn’t make the national team that went to the Paralympics in London. But she did win bronze medals in the 100 meters and silver medals in the 200 meters at the 2011 and 2012 national championships. And this year, the Utica College senior reached a personal goal, breaking the 15-second mark in the 100 meters with a time of 14.96 seconds.
Born with three toes on her right foot and without a right fibula, Maneen had her lower leg amputated when she was 11 months old. At the time, doctors told her parents never to tell her she couldn’t do things but to let Maneen figure out her limitations for herself.
“I’m still waiting to find those,” said the 21-year-old, who played soccer, softball, volleyball and golf while growing up. She now serves as assistant coach for her high school soccer team.
For her achievements, Maneen received The Faxton Cup Award of the Regional Rehabilitation Center at Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare.
Maneen’s accomplishments have been exciting to watch, said Amanda Straney, physical occupational therapy acute care manager at Faxton St. Luke’s, who nominated Maneen. She met Maneen through her son Charles.
“I have no idea where she could go from here,” she said. “The sky’s the limit.”
But it’s Maneen’s outlook that really impressed Straney.
“When you meet Katie, you’ll see she’s very open,” Straney said. “She’s just got a very positive expression, and when you talk to her, she’s a very positive person. She’s always looking for the good side of life.”
Growing up with a disability and the stares that often accompany it, Maneen said she learned to accept her challenges a long time ago.
“I can either laugh about it or I can cry about my leg,” she said. “And I choose to laugh about it every time.”
Maneen didn’t run track when she started at Herkimer County Community College where she took up javelin. But she switched to running after getting a special prosthesis in November 2010.
In the five seconds while Maneen waits in the starting blocks for the gun, she experiences the biggest adrenaline rush of her sports career, she said.
“And I love it,” she said.
At the moment, she has three goals: earning her first goal medal, making the national team for the world championships in Lyons, France, next year and getting a job after she graduates with a communication arts degree in May. But job hunting will take priority, she said.
“I vowed to myself that I would not let the sport rule my life,” Maneen said.
Page 2 of 2 - She does hope that people take note of her athleticism and think: “Wow! A person with a disability really can do anything.”
“I am just as able as any person who walks with two legs,” she said.