Posted Kenzie Kramer on 7/18/2016 |Remarkable! People
As a result of radiation from Chernobyl, Tatsiana Khvitsko was born without fully developed legs. Now, as a double blade runner, Coach Tanya inspires girls to boldly pursue their dreams as a coach for Girls on the Run of Greater Kansas City.
What was it like receiving your blades and running for the first time?
Four years ago I was fortunate enough to meet a lady at my church who is also a double amputee and she recommended me to go to Florida. As I was there, doctors made me a set of walking legs. I was feeling disappointed because I was hoping that maybe they’ll make me a set of running legs. Although, on my very last day of the trip the doctors surprised me with my set of running legs! I was so happy to run for the first time in my life! Being an amputee from birth isn’t such a bad thing because I don’t get phantom pain. However, it also means that I don’t get to do certain things because I do not have complete limbs. Running is something I was never capable of doing. My first set of running legs had only one blade and one foot that I used for running. I remember that when I ran for the first time, I was running so fast that I couldn’t stop myself and somebody had to catch me! I felt like I was flying, I know it’s cheesy but it’s true and this feeling of flying, I wanted to feel it over and over! Thanks to a local Kansas City company Decker O&P, I was given another blade for my left leg so I am officially a double blade runner! Thanks to POA, a company in Florida who gave me a chance to run for the first time, and to Decker O&P, I am becoming a strong and a fast runner.
Why did you want to become a runner?
I wouldn’t say I wanted to become a runner, it just happened and I am so grateful for it! Because of running, I’ve made so many great connections and its made me realize that my running isn’t just for me – I can help so many others!
What motivates you to keep going?
First and foremost, I love the feeling during and after the run! I like to be healthy and running helps me stay in shape. I also feel like people believe in me so much that I don’t want to disappoint them and I want to keep getting faster and stronger and simply be better. Finally, I believe I am a positive influence and hopefully I bring a little motivation for those who in need it or just need a little push. My motivation to keep going is mostly others with their love and support and encouragement!
Why did you decide to coach for Girls on the Run?
First, I wanted to do some volunteering and Girls on the Run seemed like a wonderful opportunity because it involves running. Eventually, as I started coaching, I realized what a wonderful organization it is and what it does for young women. Later I realized that it isn’t just about me doing good for others, it’s about teaching those young women to recognize their beauty and strength while incorporating self-esteem through running. I felt like it was a perfect fit for me because being an amputee I had to work so hard to find beauty in my disability and turn it to athletic ability. I wanted to show those young girls that we are all beautiful, strong and capable of so much no matter how we look or how we do it. I remember a few of the girls were telling me that I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them and I challenged them to run with me and they were so shocked how fast I am. I don’t necessarily see myself as a coach, I see myself as their running friend and their mentor!
What’s your favorite part about coaching for Girls on the Run?
My favorite part of GOTR is actually doing the final 5Ks. I love seeing their running improvements but also their accomplishments! Running isn’t easy and seeing a 10 year old finishing it with a smile on her face is completely worth it!