Who would have thought that almost one year ago, when Diane Mommsen joined the Park Cities YMCA with her husband, Michael, that she would be running a 5k race at Park Cities’ sister branch – Town North?
Diane was diagnosed with Glaucoma in 2001. She continued on with her work and daily living without telling those around her that she was slowly losing her vision. Diane giggles when she thinks of how no one at work knew she was losing her eyesight and would kid with her because she drove slowly – “like I was in my own parade” – she would say. Little did everyone know, she was slowly losing her eyesight.
In October of 2014, Michael Landin came to the Park Cities looking for a place to swim and workout. Michael, Diane’s husband, is also visually impaired. After finding a warm and caring environment at the Park Cities YMCA, Michael then decided to share Diane with our YMCA Family. Diane began to come to the YMCA on a regular basis and like Michael, she made friends and became quite good at mastering her own workouts.
Diane and Michael attended a chili cook-off at our home, and I recall Diane’s true passion when she spoke of the time she spent at the Criss Cole Center in Austin and the nice little running trail she enjoyed while there. Diane spoke of the solitude, the confidence and the “freeing” of spirit when she ran – you couldn’t help but see her glow when reminiscing of those days.
Who wouldn’t look at someone and want them to have that again in their life? Crazy thought – yes? My degree is in recreational therapy, and yes, I studied many, many ways to help everyone enjoy their wellness passions regardless of their limits. What the heck, the best I can do is throw it out there. Well, as one would guess from the first sentence in this story – Diane said yes, “Dinah – I would love to train for a 5K with you.” We giggled and admitted it would be the blind leading the blind and that we would both need to be completely honest and transparent during this process.
What an amazing woman Diane is! We are bound together by an elastic tube — she has one handle and I have the other — we stay within a foot of each other. And off we went, down the Katy Trail! For someone to have complete trust and to get out and run with someone who is completely relying on another person to guide them is the bravest thing I have personally encountered in my life.
Sunday morning, November 8, Diane completed her first 5k. She completed her first race ever. As she cried at the finish line, we all realized truly how much this meant — I would find out later that Diane thought she would really never run again. I am so blessed to have played such a small role in helping someone accomplish something they thought they would never get to do. Having her first 5K behind her, she is very confident this is only the beginning.