Tanya Khvitsko https://www.instagram.com/p/-h9JkBqJmY/ Courtesy Tanya Khvitsko

Tanya Khvitsko doesn’t take her ability to run for granted. “I run because I can,” the 26-year-old Kansas City area woman said. But that wasn’t always the case.

Tanya was born in Belarus four years after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, and like many children there, was affected by the fallout. “My hands and legs never fully formed,” Tanya said. She was born without a left foot and no right leg below the knee.

When she was just 6 years old, Tanya began traveling to the United States each summer to receive medical care here. During the school year, she returned to Belarus. Then eight years ago, Tanya came to the United States to live and attend college, graduating with her associates, bachelors and master’s degrees. She’s made her home in the Kansas City area, where she works for Knit-Rite, a company that specializes in prosthetic socks and
is supporting the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon/Norterre 5K.

Four years ago, she began working with a prosthetics company in Florida that created two sets of custom legs for her, one for walking and one for running. After receiving her prosthetic running blades, Tanya began participating in smaller, local races, gradually advancing to longer events. This year she’s set her sights on reaching a goal few runners achieve— completing a full marathon.

In preparation for that event, Tanya is taking part in Liberty Hospital’s Half Marathon March 4, 2017. “I understand that the course is hilly. I am looking forward to this new challenge and the opportunity to train for a full marathon.”

In advance of the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon, Tanya’s training regimen includes running five times a week. She also leads a free workout for others early Wednesday mornings as part of the November Project Kansas City. “We do strength training and lots of stairs,” she said. “It’s a great workout that builds strength and supplements my

Tanya now has been running for four years, competing in dozens of races, something she said never gets old for her. “I enjoy the competitive aspect of running,” she said.

But Tanya also hopes she serves as an inspiration to others who might want to sign up for the Liberty Hospital Half Marathon. “Honestly, many people take their legs for granted. I want people to know me as a runner and to appreciate their lives. Running is a great way to stay fit, be healthy and have fun with life!”