RICHMOND, Va. -- Sue Henneberry has been active since just after she could walk.
"My parents were both PE teachers so I was probably the only girl in my class who could throw a spiral," the New Jersey native said. "Sports were always a part of my life."
Henneberry started running shortly thereafter. So it was something of a shock when an active otherwise healthy woman got hit hard by COVID-19 and pneumonia in early 2021.
Due to a previous autoimmune disorder, Henneberry was affected in ways others were not and in ways she never expected.
"I was very achy. I went to the podiatrist and said something wasn't right. He said you're right, something isn't right," she recalled. "I had a wound and didn't know it because of my autoimmune, my left leg was numb from the knee down.
"My foot was red like a lobster. My health was plummeting. I felt awful."
For two years, Henneberry and her doctors battled to no avail. All the medication in the world wasn't helping the situation with her leg.
It would have to go.
"It was the hardest decision I've ever had to make because I chose. It's not like an auto accident or anything else. I chose to be amputated," she said.
It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.
Henneberry's health immediately began to rebound.
She also found new ways to get up and moving. She found the folks at Sportable.
"Everybody needs to get up and move whatever your challenges are. Even if it's just walking around the block, you gotta keep active," running coach Karl Cover said.
"Disabilities will never outweigh your ability," Henneberry said. "To me, I've lived that. It is that middle finger saying nope, not gonna let it get the best of me!"
Henneberry began running again and took part in a Spartan race earlier this year.
Just a few weeks ago, she ran a 10-mile race at Rocketts Landing. It was the furthest she had ever run in her life.
"This is mental. As much as this is physical, to learn how to walk, to learn how to run or any of that kind of stuff, you've lost part of your body. I'm still trying to grieve," she said. "For me, doing the sports and giving myself a goal to work and when I can achieve that, it is so uplifting that I can do anything. If I can do this, what's next?"
What's next is the Richmond half-marathon for which she is training with her coach and other supporters.
Cover suggested just doing the 8K portion, but that just isn't in Henneberry's style.
She is doing this for herself but has also become an example of not letting even devastating circumstances keep you down.
"She's a perfect example to show what can be done just by getting out there and trying," Cover said.
"This man came up to me and he said I've been dealing with knee injuries and I watched you do 10 miles, he said thank you so much. That was so meaningful. I was like dang, that felt good!" Henneberry said. "You have one life to live. You have to strive to have it be the best it can possibly be. Live it to the best potential you have."
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