PITTSBURGH, Penn. - Savanna Barton, a special education teacher at the Watson Institute in Pittsburgh, ran in the city’s half marathon for the second year in a row. But this time, she had a partner by her side.
On May 7, Barton crossed the finish line after 2 hours and 45 minutes with her student Sophie who is non-verbal and needs assistance to walk, according to local media.
"I decided to run it with Sophie to not only give her and her family the opportunity, but to spread awareness to others that just because someone has a disability, it doesn’t mean they should be limited in all that life has to offer," Barton told FOX Television Stations.
When the 24-year-old teacher asked Sophie’s parents if she could push their daughter in a stroller in the race, Barton told FOX they were so excited and couldn’t believe that Barton would be willing to do that with her.
On May 7, Barton crossed the finish line after 2 hours and 45 minutes with her student Sophie, who is non-verbal and needs assistance to walk, according to local media. (Credit: Savanna Barton via Storyful)
"Her mom immediately blurted out ‘YES!,’" Barton shared.
"WE CAN DO HARD THINGS! I am so proud of my sweet girl," Barton wrote on her Facebook page after running the 13.1-mile course.
She later said she wanted Sophie "to get to experience life to the fullest and represent her amazing classmates."
While Barton said this experience has meant so much to her, she noted that this wasn’t about her or any recognition.
She told FOX she decided to run the race with Sophie to spread awareness that those with disabilities should not be limited to all that life has to offer. (Credit: Savanna Barton via Storyful)
"I wanted Sophie to show other students like her that they can do hard things in life and that anything is possible," she continued, adding, "She is the true meaning of resilience, and I am so grateful to be her and her classmates' teacher."
Barton said she hopes this story can show others that Sophie and her classmates work very hard "every single day."
"I hope people can have a new perspective on life and be grateful for the opportunities they are given," she concluded.
This story was reported from Los Angeles. Storyful contributed.