runDisney Runners Who Inspire Us: Competitive Swimmer Tackles the 2022 runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend Following Tragic Accident

Sarah Harris

by , Disney Sports Social Community Manager

Every runDisney race weekend is filled with magical miles at Walt Disney World and amazing stories of accomplishment and the inaugural 2022 runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend was no exception.

Mary Kate Meingossner, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, started swimming at a young age and quickly fell in love with water sports. A passion for water sports fueled her career, and led her to compete in water polo, diving, swimming and more at the collegiate level. At age 19, while going into her sophomore year of college, she was tragically hit by a drunk driver and was told by her doctor that she wouldn’t be able to continue swimming.

The years following the accident were some of the toughest for her, with continued physical issues leaving her doubting that she would ever be able to compete in anything again. It wasn’t until she saw her sisters get into running and joined to watch them finish their first runDisney event, that she thought this was a goal she could set. “I saw all the happiness that they got from it,” said Mary Kate, “and I said ‘I want to do that.’”

Taking on this goal wasn’t without its challenges though but with physical therapy and consistent training, she was able to slowly build up her distance at her own pace. Through runDisney, Mary Kate was able to find the joy of competition that she thought she would never experience again. “runDisney changed my life because I’m able to compete again without having that pressure,” said Mary Kate. “I can practice and train at my own speed and run events at my own pace. It allowed me to get better mentally and physically.”

All the hard work paid off as now Mary Kate can proudly share that she tackled the runDisney Springtime Surprise Challenge, completing all three (5K, 10K, 10-Miler) of the weekend’s endurance events! “This is an accomplishment that I never thought I would get,” said Mary Kate. “I never thought that after my accident that I would be able to run a 5K, let alone the challenge.”

 Here’s a look at Mary Kate’s magical experience: