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A Tale of Friendship and Perseverance

One of the things that we love about the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is that Disney will later share motivational stories about overcoming obstacles. The latest is about Iowa’s Kayla Swope, who, with the help of a friend, just completed the Dopey Challenge.

Credit: Disney

Here is their tale of friendship and perseverance, from Courtney Jasmin and Disney Parks Blog:

There have been some memorable Walt Disney World Marathon Weekends over the event’s 29-year history, but this year’s edition during the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary was even more special for runners who ran right in the heart of The World’s Most Magical Celebration.

This was especially true for Iowa runner Kayla Swope. She tackled the Dopey Challenge – running four races on consecutive days – during the race weekend with her visual impairment. That’s a total of 48.6 miles!

With the aid of her guide, Apryl Tidd, Kayla managed to complete the 5K on Thursday, the 10K on Friday, the half marathon on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday. Kayla and Apryl took home four individual event medals, and an additional two medals for the Goofy and Dopey Challenges, earning them six coveted race medals! 

Kayla, who lives in Blue Grass, Iowa, has granular corneal dystrophy. It’s a degenerative corneal disease that permits her to only see shapes and colors with very little detail. She has gone through 10 eye surgeries, including four corneal transplants. Even though she and her guide live in different states, they train together through calls, text messages and video chats. This was an unforgettable race for Kayla, who said she cried tears of joy multiple times on the course for achieving her goals.

Credit: Disney

If you have a goal to complete a long distance run, you can get in on the fun too because there are two more runDisney races this season. Next up is the Princess Half Marathon Weekend (Feb. 24-27, 2022) followed by the Springtime Surprise Weekend (March 31-April 3).

To learn more about future runDisney events, visit and follow us on our social channels @runDisney.

Credit: Disney

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Paula K

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH, and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married, and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010, we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the Parks. Under the name Paula Brown, I penned the novels 'Dream Wanderers' and 'The Coffee Cruiser'. I also am a co-author of 'Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide'. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida.

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