RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A Raleigh woman is celebrating a huge accomplishment – completing the New York Marathon. If that weren’t incredible enough, she did it while living with a rare genetic condition that also affects her son.
Holly Griffin recently crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon. She didn’t just run for herself but to support the Children’s Tumor Foundation which funds research to find treatments or cures for neurofibromatosis. The group of genetic disorders, also known as NF, causes tumors to grow on nerves.
Griffin says her tumors can sometimes cause pain, but they haven’t stopped her from running. Her 13-year-old son Hayes, who also has NF, hasn’t let it slow him down either.
“The way NF affects Hayes is different right now than how it affects me,” Holly Griffin explained.
The disorder caused a bone in Hayes’ leg to bow, requiring about a dozen surgeries.
“He had trouble walking sometimes,” Griffin recalled. “He always had to wear the brace on his leg and always kind of had a fear of the leg breaking.”
When he was 10, Hayes faced the choice of another difficult surgery or having his leg amputated.
“I decided to get my leg amputated because I thought if I got my leg amputated, I would have more chances to do more things, to make the basketball team,” he said.
Hayes said the amputation has given him more freedom. Sometimes he even forgets he has one leg.
His mom says he’s thriving.
“He’s trying out for the basketball team at school. He plays basketball with our church league. He’s in the run club,” his mom said. “He will try anything.”
“He just always amazed me,” she added. “He’s gone through so much pain and so much recovery.”
Griffin decided to run the NY Marathon with her son in mind.
“I wanted to show him that we can do hard things,” she said. “Even though we have NF, that doesn’t stop us. You know, I may have tumors that grew on my nerves and he may have one leg but we can still go do everything that everybody else does .”
Together they’re working to fund research and raise awareness of neurofibromatosis. Through races and other fundraisers, they’ve raised nearly $30,000 for the Children’s Tumor Foundation.
The NY Marathon is an especially meaningful accomplishment.
“I just think she’s just so cool for that,” Hayes said. “I can never do that.”
His mom knows her son can do anything he puts his mind to.
“Maybe one day,” she said, smiling.