Deborah Henry’s earliest childhood memories include watching other children run and play.

“When I was very young and first started speaking, I would talk about pains in my legs,” said Henry, 59, who suffered from chronic leg pain due to unstable knee joints. “It was really difficult growing up because I wanted to run like the other kids, but couldn’t because it was too painful. “

Nothing brought long-term relief until 2008 when Deborah had her right knee replaced. With one leg now pain-free, she decided to start exercising and joined the Y.

Deborah started in the pool where she could move easily thanks to the water’s buoyancy. She built enough strength for Gentle Fit classes in the gym, where participants can sit in chairs to exercise using bands and hand weights to improve strength. Exercise helped strengthen her body for her second surgery in 2010 when her left knee was replaced.

With both knees fixed, Henry’s world opened up. “I was able to give up the canes I had been using for 10 years.” Pain-free, she decided to tackle bigger challenges and joined group cycling classes.

“Those classes made me so strong,” said Deborah, who also started using the treadmill and built up to running. “It was an incredible feeling to finally be able to run.”

Last summer Deborah completed a triathlon, consisting of a 25 km bike ride, 6.5 km run and 750 metre lake swim. “Every day, I can hardly believe that I can move so well, and I keep getting stronger and stronger and stronger.”

YMCA programming helped Deborah achieve her dream of finally being able to run. How can we help you achieve your dreams?