Paralympic athlete Elizabeth (Liz) Willis is the featured speaker for the Fourth Annual Joint Fundraising event co-sponsored by Rice County Historical Society and Lyons Public Library at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday Feb. 9, at the Lyons Public Library. Along with the guest speaker, the event includes appetizers and a silent auction.
Willis, a Sterling High School alumna, is a T44 below the left knee amputee who recently competed at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Willis was the only U.S. ambulatory athlete who qualified in all of the sprints (100m, 200m, and 400m), and she took home the 6th place finish in the 400m. All of this was accomplished in five short years after having her leg amputated following complications of labor and delivery. Her son, Calum, was born 8 weeks prematurely, and Liz was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease which caused ulcers to erode her digestive organs leading to internal bleeding and blood clots. Qualifying for the Paralympics 5 years post-amputation is a rather remarkable feat when considering the fact that the second most recent Paralympian in the world has been an amputee twice as long. Progress was made quickly largely in part to realistic goal setting centered around areas of passion and purpose.
In addition to athletic competition, Willis, who has a master’s degree in Special Education, currently works part-time as a paraeducator focusing on students with behavioral needs. She enjoys hobbies of family outings to the local zoo, children’s museums, and movie theaters, along with scrapbooking, playing with her son, and renovating home projects. She is passionate about motivating others. “It is with overwhelming gratitude that my joy for running and motivational speaking provides a life filled with purpose. My desire is to give back to those who have helped me by paying it forward by motivating others so that they may rise in strength beyond what they once thought impossible.”
Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased for $15 at the Rice County Historical Society and the Lyons Public Library. For more information, call (620)-257-3941 or (620) 257-2961.