N.C. woman running Steamboat half marathon in support of ill sister | SteamboatToday.com

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N.C. woman running Steamboat half marathon in support of ill sister

North Carolina's Laura King Edwards

— Laura Edwards became a runner in 2008 when she watched her younger sister, Taylor King, complete her first 5-kilometer race. King was 10 at the time and completely blind, her sight taken by Batten disease.

"The moment she crossed the finish line, I knew I wanted to run for her," Edwards said. "It's just one of those things that comes to you in a lightning bolt moment. And I've been running for her ever since."

Edwards, 34, continues to run for King, now 17. She has set a goal to race in all 50 states, part of a journey to promote "Taylor's Tale," a nonprofit she co-founded to help fight the disease that is slowly taking her sister’s life.

She arrived in the Yampa Valley on Friday, her first time in Colorado, and will compete in Sunday's Steamboat Springs half marathon. This will be state No. 13 on her list.

"While this is an incredible personal experience, I'm doing it to share Taylor's story and raise awareness for Taylor's Tale," Edwards said. "What always struck me about Taylor is she has this incredible courage. Even getting this terrible, genetic roll of the dice, she always had a smile on her face, and she never let it get in the way of things she wanted to do."

Edwards is from North Carolina, and it was a race there, in 2013, that inspired her to compete in each state. That race, a half marathon in Charlotte, marked the five-year anniversary of King’s first 5K. It was also most memorable, because Edwards completed the race blindfolded, in honor of her sister, at the same place King ran that original 5K.

"I realized I could never recapture the magic of that race. That's where the idea of running in all 50 states was hatched," Edwards said. "When things get really hard, and I feel like my body wants to shut down, and I want to walk, I immediately think about how Taylor ran those 5Ks. She ran the whole thing."

King is now confined to a wheelchair. Along with her sight, Batten disease has taken her ability to speak and eat without a feeding tube. It also causes her to have seizures. With no known cure, there isn't much of a future for the teenager.

For this reason, Edwards is determined to race across the country, spreading her sister's story and raising support to fight the disease.

"We believe we are going to make an incredible difference. And we believe there is going to be a day very soon that kids don't have to suffer this fate," Edwards said. "With all of those things that have been stolen from her, we'll be sitting there as a family, and she will find something that is funny or makes her happy, and she'll laugh. What she's done is she has taught me the meaning, or the importance, of finding the good in every day. She has really given me purpose in life and given me the drive to get up every day and to fight for a better future."

To learn more about Taylor's Tale or to support their cause, visit taylorstale.org.

Sunday's marathon, half marathon and 10K races begin at 7:30 a.m., with the finish line located in downtown Steamboat.

To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert