MAHWAH, N.J. — Cerebral palsy didn’t stop 23-year-old Christina Vita from swimming a third of a mile, biking 15 miles and then running three more. Twice.
Speech and physical therapy were the only forms of exercise for the Mahwah athlete until last year, when her longtime friend from church, Terri Peri, asked her to complete the 2014 Iron Girl Sandy Hook with her.
Peri said she knew what Vita was capable of.
“People think you can’t do anything,” said Vita, a student at Bergen Community College who ran a 5K this weekend in 38:27. “But I prove them wrong.”
Vita started training immediately – two minutes of walking here, five minutes of walking there — and repeated that five times over again.
Eventually it wasn’t work anymore: It became a new form of therapy.
“Running helps me feel stronger,” said Vita, who will be a junior coach at Girls on the run this season. “It can be peaceful and clears my mind.”
A recent highlight was meeting Dick Hoyt and his son Rick Hoyt, who has cerebral palsy, of the Hoyt Team. Dick Hoyt carried and pushed his son through more than 1,000 triathlons, duathlons, half-marathons and more.
Vita's goals are to run without stopping and beat her previous times. She's currently working toward her third triathlon.
“Don’t stop believing in yourself,” Vita said. “If I can ‘try, so can you. If I can do it, other people can do it, too.”