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Running with Heart

This post was submitted by Melissa Lasbury, a runner in the 2019 Disney Princess Half Marathon, for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through

This will be my fifth year running the Disney Princess Half Marathon with Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and I couldn’t be more excited! Well honestly, a little nervous too because I haven’t trained as much as I should have. I am not beating myself up about though because I have a healthy 6 month old who made working out and training a bit more difficult this time around.

I started running the Princess Half in 2015 after my oldest daughter, who is now 6, had a year without any hospitalizations and I suddenly realized that she was doing ok, and I was not. That’s because for the first 3 years of her life, I had forgotten to take care of myself. My oldest daughter, Chase, was born with a congenital heart defect (CHD) called AVSD. Additionally, I suffered from IUGR (in-utero growth restriction) during pregnancy and she was born at 29 weeks, weighing only 1 lb 9 oz. We knew she had a heart defect as they were able to spot it during our 20 week ultrasound, but we were not prepared for the multitude of surgeries, ER visits and medications she would need. Initially, they had hoped to be able to wait until she was a bit older and weighed closer to 10 pounds to have her repair surgery – the one and only surgery my husband and I imagined she would need – but at 3.5 months old, weighing only 4 pounds, she was transferred from her birth hospital, to our local CMN Hospital, Children’s National Medical Center in DC for her first of what would be 4 open heart surgeries. By the time she was three, Chase had an artificial heart valve, a pacemaker, a stent and a G-Tube for feeding. But by looking at her, the little fighter that she is, you wouldn’t know it.

The doctors and nurses at the hospital were amazing, the other parents and families we met were an awesome support and the therapists, OT, PT, Speech, all helped to ensure that she started school on time and was ready to go. Once I knew she would be ok, I began to look at myself and I realized, that if I was going to be around for her, I needed to start taking care of me. I started running and working out and signed up for my first princess half. It took me a couple of years but by the time my third princess half came around, I had lost 40 pounds, shaved 25 minutes off my time and signed up for even more runDisney events (Star Wars, Wine and Dine and WDW Half Marathon).

Now, I just can’t stay away! I keep coming back to Princess Weekend because the entire weekend is just filled with so many inspirational stories. It is amazing to meet so many families with similar experiences, so many strong children, teenagers, siblings, moms and dads, etc. that have been able to make it through these tough times because of the amazing things CMN hospitals do. Because of that, I feel like I’ll be running the Princess 5k, 10k and half for CMN Hospitals and CHD families for a very long time.

Today, Chase is the smallest, but spunkiest, first grader in her class. She is no longer G-Tube dependent, although she still requires assistance and therapy for eating. She will need additional surgery as she gets older to maintain her valve and pacemaker but for now, we are focusing on how great she is doing and how awesome a big sister she is. I gained some weight, as to be expected while expecting Chase’s baby sister (I actually ran the princess 5k, 10k and half in 2018 while 3 months pregnant) but I am happy to say that I kept my focus and am almost back to where I was. This year Princess weekend is all about Mommy/Daughter time, as Chase will be joining me for her second kids race. We can’t wait to see everyone!

Melissa Lasbury is a mom, runner, CHD advocate and CMN Hospitals supporter.

Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals® is the presenting sponsor and celebratory charity of the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. Funds raised for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals in conjunction with this magical event will help kids grow up happily ever after. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals raises funds and awareness for 170 children’s hospitals in the U.S. and Canada, which, in turn, use the money where it’s needed the most.

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