Culture

Jenene Is A Deaf Runner—Here’s Her Story

"Who says I can't run because I'm deaf?"

Who says I can’t be a runner because I’m unable to hear? Do I need music to run? As a deaf runner, I thrive on my active eyes. Feeling the rhythm while running is like music to me!

I’m a proud 44-year-old deaf mother of four: Avery, my 6-year-old, loves to run like her mommy; Austin, 9, my deaf son who loves to play with his Legos and socialize with his deaf friends and cousins; Ashley, 22, is an awesome baker; April, 26, is mom to a 3-year-old and is serving in the Air Force as a Registered Nurse.

American Sign Language is our primary language, used every day at home with my loving husband, Robin. I teach middle school science, and my students are always inspired by my running stories. I want my students to see that there is no limit to what they can do. I already influenced some staff members into running and have set up a Fit Club to encourage working out!

My passion for running began when I ran my third 5K on Mother’s Day in 2012. I was very determined to run all the way (without stopping) to honor my mother and others who have suffered with cancer. That Race for the Cure became more special when my mother passed away. Since that emotional day, I have completed many 5Ks and 10Ks. In 2015, I ran my first half marathon, and recently finished my eleventh half marathon. I completed my first marathon last June at Grandma’s Marathon. I’m addicted to running because I feel so free and it takes me to places to explore.

My goal is to establish a 5K that helps Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf and motivates others to lead a healthier lifestyle. I also would love to run more half marathons, and will run Ragnar Trails and a full marathon in 2017.

Read all eight finalists’ stories, and vote for your favorite story to appear on our Jan/Feb 2017 cover!