Kiley Lyall just made history as the first person with autism to grace the cover of “Women’s Running” magazine.
The 24-year-old runner and aspiring model has autism, mild cerebral palsy and epilepsy and beat out seven other inspiring women to win the cover. Not only is it the first time anyone with autism has been on the cover of the magazine, but also the first time for someone with cerebral palsy and epilepsy as well, the magazine told The Mighty in an email.
Lyall’s mother, Kathleen, entered her daughter into the competition at “Women’s Running” magazine after finding it online. Lyall was then chosen out of 3,000 people to be one of eight finalists.
Lyall, who lives with her family in Bourbonnais, Illinois, has been running since she won her first relay at Special Olympics when she was 8 years old. Lyall and her mother often run together, and after they’d done many 5k charity races, Lyall set her sights on the Chicago Half Marathon. She’s now completed that race twice, most recently on September 27.
Lyall’s love of running has even helped to improve her condition, People reported. Stress is often one of the triggers of her seizures and her mother believes that because running helps alleviate her stress, it has reduced the amount of seizures she has.
“With everything she struggles with, she realized that running made her body feel so much better,” Kathleen told People. “She started talking more, and she started wanting to run more because it made her feel better.”
“We don’t even know how to thank everyone who shared Kiley’s story and voted for her during this magazine contest filled with eight very amazing, inspiriational women runners,” Kathleen Lyall wrote on her Facebook page. “Kiley will be now be able to represent all of our uniquely-abled athletes, as she not only follows her dream of modeling, but most importantly, running.”