Austin woman with Down syndrome runs Boston Marathon

An Austin woman is defying odds and inspiring others. Kayleigh Williamson was born with Down syndrome, but this past week she ran the Boston Marathon.

"I’ve always raised Kayleigh that you don’t let what others think you can and cannot do cap you," Kayleigh Williamson’s mother, Sandy Williamson said.

Thirty-three-year-old Kayleigh Williamson started running with her mother in 2015. She competed in her first race which was 10 miles just a year later. "I was so proud of myself," Kayleigh said.

Kayleigh has run more than 20 half-marathons all over the country and is the first person with Down syndrome to complete the Austin Marathon.

"My mom, she always told me that I am inspiring other people and the moment I crossed the finish line, the moment I see my mom, she started crying and she told me, I am so proud of you," Kayleigh Williamson said.

"When she hit that finish line, it was unbelievable. It was a goal that she worked very, very hard for and every step of the way she was thinking about her grandma," Sandy Williamson said.

Kayleigh said when she’s running, her grandma, who recently died of Alzheimer’s, speaks to her.

"My grandma always told me to run fast," Kayleigh said, adding it’s her voice and the "Eye of the Tiger" song that keeps her going.

Prior to running and a healthier diet, Kayleigh was developing autoimmune disorders. Her mother said since, they’ve been in remission. "She’s no longer pre-diabetic, she no longer has sleep apnea," Sandy Williamson said.

Kayleigh trains with her mother about four days a week. They run side by side in each race. 

The most recent race they ran was the Boston Marathon last week. They said the conditions were tough.

"It was in the 40s and 50s and right before we even started the race it started raining," Sandy Williamson said.

Kayleigh made it about 20 miles before her hip and ankle started hurting. "I was doing my best," she said.


She came up a little short of the finish line, but inspired so many people along the way.

"What was more important than this finish were the people that were beside us, the 20-something runners that stopped to take a picture with her because they have been following her story for months now, the people who gave high-fives on the side, the parents of individuals with Down syndrome who ran by and said my child has Down syndrome, and we followed her story and it’s so admirable," Sandy Williamson said.

Kayleigh and her mother are now gearing up for the New York City Marathon in November.