Ossman races on crutches

MARTINS FERRY – If a person has the determination and drive to do something, they can get it done.

That was the case of Haleigh Ossman. The 11-year-old was entered to run in the recently held Runnin’ From the Cops’ 5K with her mother and a group of their friends. They were preparing for the Tough Mudder obstacle course competition at Powerline Park in August.

However, two weeks prior to the event that winded its way through the streets of downtown Martins Ferry, she broke her lower right leg when she tripped over a dog leash.

So, now what?

“We had already made plans to do it (the race), so after I broke my leg, I still wanted to do the race,” she explained of her determination. “I figured that if I could walk through Wal-Mart on crutches, I could do a 5K on crutches.”

Easier said than done, as she later found out.

“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” she admitted. “The worst parts were the heat and my underarms hurting from the crutches. It was just so long.”

Long would be an understatement.

In fact, while the young Shadyside resident was still traversing the final stages of the course with a friend of her mom’s and the woman’s son, the awards ceremony had already started.

“We were giving out awards and there she came down the street on her crutches,” race volunteer Liz Miller, of Quality Motors, recalled. “To have a little girl walk the entire race on crutches is truly amazing.”

Miller said that members of the city police department following along with a cruiser repeatedly asked Ossman if she wanted a ride, and each time she politely declined.

“She was determined she was going to finish that race, and she did,” Miller added. “(Officer) Bob Walton was giving out the awards and he stopped. Everyone gathered around the finish line to give her a standing ovation. It was really heartwarming.”

Ossman said she realized the awards were being given out, but her main focus was on the finish line.

“When I could finally see it, I was like ‘thank gosh,'” she said with a laugh. “I was so tired.

“Then I was like, ‘they don’t even know I’m doing this,'” she allowed. “Then everyone came down to cheer me on. That was really nice. It felt good and i was excited.”

Miller added, “there’s adults out there that wouldn’t have done what she did. We always hear about all the bad things that kids do nowadays, but for a change we saw a young girl do something very remarkable.”

Ossman’s mother, Jen, admitted she doesn’t really remember much about the end of the race.

“I was too busy crying. I was very, very proud of her,” her mother beamed.

Did her mother have any reservations about letting her daughter compete on the crutches.

“Not at all. If there’s something in her mind that she wants to do, she’ll do it. If you tell her she can’t, she will do it twice just to prove a point.

“I found it kind of cool that everyone down there (at the finish line) got to see in her what I see every day,” Jen Ossman added.

So what was Haleigh’s driving force behind her completing the 3-mile competition?

“My husband (James) is in the hospital right now battling kidney disease,” Jen Ossman revealed. “He’s on the transplant list, and we had a couple of complications last week, but we’ll get through it.”

Haleigh said there was never a doubt in her mind that she wouldn’t be able to finish the race.

“My dad does so much for all of else, I wanted to do the race for him.”

Mission complete!

A lot of determination and an endless drive can do wonders.

North can be reached at knorth@timesleaderonline.com