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The Pioneer

Saniyah Williams: More than a Runner

Cynthia Cumming

Anna Favetta, Editor-in-Chief

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WEST ORANGE, Nj — Saniyah Williams, a fifth grader at Kelly Elementary School, won an award for outstanding achievement at the Dec. 18, 2017 Board of Education (BOE) meeting. Saniyah, a girl who lost her sight completely in elementary school, walked up to receive her award for completing two 5K runs.

For a while Saniyah could see a little bit, but eventually her retina completely detached making her blind in both eyes. Though she has lost her sight she has not lost her drive to achieve. Like everyone else, Saniyah has a favorite subject: math; she has a favorite pair of running shoes: the turquoise and pink ones; she likes gym and recess, especially jumping rope, but what makes Saniyah exceptional is that no matter what, she believes that everyone, herself included, must do whatever it takes to reach a goal.

Saniyah’s mom is also a runner and when Saniyah first heard about running she thought she would like it a lot. Eventually, she asked her mom if she could sign up for Girl’s on the Run, a program designed for young girls to build confidence and character while training for a 5K. Her mom excitedly signed her up. Saniyah said her mom was happy she started to run because her mom and sister would sometimes run together and now she can too.

Saniyah says her mom and sister are her inspiration and she someday wants to win a lot of medals like her mom. She already has two under her belt from finishing the 5Ks. Saniyah finds her own races and tells her mom she wants to run them. She completed her first race in 4th grade and her second this current school year in Livingston.

Saniyah trains with Girls on the Run at Kelly Elementary School, they run often and sometimes stop for water breaks. According to Ms. Kherri, Saniyah’s aid at school, Saniyah always wants to keep going. When Saniyah first started running, she would run with her teacher Ms. Navarro who would wear a belt and attach it to Saniyah to lead her. This year is a little different with two new Girls on the Run coaches. The coaches this year just hold her elbow while she runs but Saniyah doesn’t like that, according to Saniyah she prefers the belt because she wants to feel free.

Saniyah dreams bigger than just a 5K, while she wants to run more she also wants to run a 10K and some day, a marathon. But for Saniyah, her dreams are not dreams, they are attainable goals she wants to conquer. She has always gone for what she wants even outside of running.

When Saniyah first started learning braille in 3rd grade, she said it was difficult and she didn’t understand it but she was persistent. Now she is better at it than Ms. Kherri who started learning around the same time to help her. Saniyah says she has even started to enjoy braille and textures in general. Saniyah says the best thing she can tell people who want to achieve a goal is they must have patience and the will to never give up.

Saniyah doesn’t consider herself different, she does many things by herself. She eats by herself and goes to the bathroom by herself.

“I can even go to the gym by myself,” Saniyah said.

But it takes a unique individual to win an Outstanding Achievement award, Saniyah is not different on the outside, but Saniyah’s ability to persist and commit, her ability to never stop trying is what makes her special.  

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1 Comment

One Response to “Saniyah Williams: More than a Runner”

  1. Henry on January 20th, 2018 8:04 pm

    Strong girl. Can barely find my own way to my house and she can go find a gym and she is visually impaired.

    [Reply]

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