LIMA — Alison Delgado is addicted to running and those things she learned from a lifetime of running turned out to be exactly what she needed to survive a near-death accident two and a half years ago.
“You are all going to face challenges one day,” she told Lima Catholic school pupils Friday. “If you have those positive addictions and build those skills, you will be able to overcome them.”
Delgado, a pediatrician from Cincinnati, was this year’s Positive Addiction Week keynote speaker Friday at St. Charles Catholic School. The Lima Catholic schools have been doing things all week to promote developing positive addictions instead of negative addictions like drugs and alcohol.
The schools came together Friday for the program and annual 5K. Delgado ran with the pupils. This is the 30th year the schools have recognized Positive Addiction Week. Students and staff wore T-shirts Friday with the same design as the shirts 30 years ago.
Delgado, 30, began running cross country in the seventh grade. She is a state-champion runner and competitive cyclist. Delgado was the first female runner to cross the finish line in the 2005 Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati.
In October 2010, Delgado was struck by a car while cycling. She arrived at the hospital and was treated by her husband Tim, who did not initially know it was her. She was in a coma with a heartbeat that at times dipped below 30 beats per minute. If she survived, doctors believed she would remain in a vegetative state.
Delgado opened her eyes five days after the accident and began the long road to a recovery not many expected her to make. Her recovery suffered a setback when she had an aneurysm and had to undergo a difficult surgery.
“I was back at square one,” she said. “Tim and I were positive and our goal was to get back to work and get back to myself. I also knew God had a plan for me. We both knew if we worked every day toward that goal it would get better.”
In April of 2011, she began running again, and in May 2012, she was back at the Flying Pig, running two minutes and 18 seconds faster than when she won the marathon in 2005. She finished fourth.
“My goal was to show that you can overcome even after great tragedy,” she said, adding that winning was never the goal. “I was just so happy to be alive and healthy and able to run again.”
Delgado told students her positive addiction is running and that her addiction and all the things she has learned from it kicked in during her recovery. She said running taught her determination, dedication, how to set and achieve long-term goals, and how to work as a team. It also gave her self confidence.
Delgado needed all of these, she said, to survive the accident. She also needed to trust in God and understand he had a plan for her.
“God has a plan for all of us. He has long-term goals for us, things we may not even know yet,” she said. “Get those positive addictions to help you toward those goal.”
Delgado also encouraged pupils to wear helmets when riding bikes, scooters or skateboards. She said she wouldn’t be alive today if she had not had one on. May is National Bike Safety Month.