Bristol Hiatt can't run. She can't even walk, let alone barely even take care of herself. That requires the care and love of family members, friends, teachers and para-educators every day of her life.
Saturday at the Columbus Downtown Runaround, many of those loving caregivers came together to do what Bristol cannot.
"She slept through most of the way, so she very much enjoyed it," her mom, Kylie, said with a laugh. "She woke up for a little bit, and then towards the end, the sun was in her eyes, so she just closed her eyes back up and went back to sleep towards the finish line."
Kylie pushed her daughter in a stroller along the route of the 2.1 mile course for the 34th annual Downtown Runaround.
Bristol, seven years old, was born with Rett Syndrome, a disorder that attacks almost exclusively female babies. Rett's is a neurological disease cause by mutations of a gene that generally shows up the first few months after birth.
It strikes about 1 in 10,000 regardless of racial or ethnic background and causes problems with such brain functions as learning, speech, sensory sensations, mood, movement, breathing, cardiac function and event chewing, swallowing and digestion.
Bristol was previously featured in the David City Banner-Press in 2016 when she picked out a playground for her back yard thanks to the Nebraska Make-a-Wish Foundation. Her and her family were also reported on in 2014 when US 30 Speedway honored the Hiatts on opening night of the racing season with a fundraiser to fight Rett's.
Over 500 people competed in the Columbus Downtown Runaround this year.
The Hiatts, family and friends came together with Team Bristol shirts to wear while running to raise awareness of the disease.
CJ Martinez of Fremont won the men's 5-mile race, Megan Billington of Grand Island crossed first in the women's portion, Columbus native and Telegram feature athlete in June, Matt Seiler, won the men's 2.1-mile race and Marisol Deanda, a distance runner at Schuyler High School, won the women's 2.1.
"There was probably 10 people who ran on team Bristol," Kylie said. "We got to go in front of the crowd, and we were announced with a small backstory on Bristol. There was probably 500 people standing there, so that was a good thing.
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"Since then, a little more than 20 people have liked her page on Facebook after the Downtown Runaround. Hopefully for her, we got some awareness out for Rett's Syndrome."
Bristol needs full assistance every single day which can be difficult with Kylie and her husband and Bristol's father, Shane, working full time.
Fortunately, the Hiatt's have said both the Shelby Public School district and the daycare that Bristol attends have helped out.
"During the school year, she goes to school," Kylie said. "She’s got an amazing team at Shelby. She goes to Shelby Public School. She’s got an amazing team there that helps her out. She’s got an awesome para and the teachers and there’s therapist up there that help her as well. During the summertime, she’s at a daycare that she goes to and is awesome and does that for her too."
Kylie said that the race was a great way to put a name and a face with the effects of Rett's.
"(It was about) basically just letting people know what Rett syndrome is since it’s not common at all," she said. "Every 1 in 10,000 girls have it. It’s very uncommon so were just raising awareness. Being a special needs mom, it’s very important for people to know that she’s just like us. Even though she can’t walk or talk."
While this is the first year that a group was formed for The Downtown Runaround in support of Bristol and Rett syndrome, Kylie said it won't be the last.
"The Downtown Runaround was a lot of fun," Kylie said. "I think over 500 people participated and that’s a really good amount and I was seeing kids run so it’s a great thing you and your whole family out there to even walk it if you don’t want to run. It’s just a great thing, a fun thing, to do with your family. We are definitely are going to keep doing it now that we know. I’ll train a little more for next year."
For full Downtown Runaround results, see page B2.
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org