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9/11 First Responder Overcomes Cancer To Conquer Walt Disney World Half Marathon

Emily Amato

by , Public Relations Manager, Disney Sports

In 2018, Heather Yang was training to run her first half marathon when she was blindsided by a stage 3 colon cancer diagnosis. The diagnosis derailed Yang’s training and led to five months of chemotherapy – but none of that stopped her from running the Walt Disney World Half Marathon last Saturday.

As a United States Army veteran and a first responder during the Sept. 11 World Trade Center tragedy, Heather knew she had the strength and determination to fight for her life. In March 2019, she completed chemotherapy and began a new journey as a cancer survivor, which included getting back to one of the things she loves most – running.

Eight months ago, Heather began training in her hometown of Chicago for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon, and last weekend, she completed the 13.1-mile race, fulfilling a dream that didn’t appear possible a year ago.

Walt Disney World Resort holds a special place in Yang’s heart. She and her husband spent their first vacation, their honeymoon, and several anniversaries at the Most Magical Place on Earth. Now, Heather can proudly add that it was where she completed her first half marathon, completing a journey that almost never got started. 

The Walt Disney World Marathon weekend was the second of six race weekends during the 2019-20 runDisney season, with the next race weekend being the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend, February 20–23, at Walt Disney World Resort. For more information, visit www.rundisney.com.

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