ATLANTA — A young woman from Atlanta is racing for a world record with the hope that more people will embrace differences.
Some beauty is effortless. Some beauty comes from pain and difficulty. Bentley-Grace Hicks is an example of both.
Bentley-Grace has a therapy horse named Archer. Her time working with him is painful, but necessary.
"He trains her core to be stronger in the chair and stronger in life," Lee Hicks, Bentley-Grace’s dad said.
Horse therapy builds her strength for what she feels she is born to do.
"I’ve been racing ever since I was 14 years old," Bentley-Grace said as she smiled.
Bentley-Grace has spent her whole life overcoming the odds.
"She was born very premature at 24 weeks and three days," Her mother, Fredda, said. "She only weighed 1 pound 6 ounces."
Bentley-Grace suffered a grade three non-resolving brain bleed in her first day, resulting in her diagnosis of Cerebral Palsy Spastic Quadriplegia.
"The doctors said she’d never walk, never talk, never eat without a feeding tube, and never breathe without oxygen," Lee added.
Bentley-Grace has since shown what is possible. She is breathing on her own, and talking, and eating. While she can’t walk yet, Bentley-Grace runs with the help of those who love her.
"She loves speed. She is like an adrenaline junkie," Fredda said.
Bentley-Grace has a marathon partner, Chris Nasser. She considers him family and Nasser said the pair has a sibling-like bond.
They are a two-person elite racing team on the cusp of breaking the Guinness Book of World Records in the marathon.
Nasser takes each stride and pushes the chair with Bentley-Grace, who weighs about 100 pounds. She is busy during the races, meticulously managing their time and pace.
"These chair athletes are working harder than we can ever understand," Lee said.
Meanwhile, Nasser said Bentley-Grace is always busy providing motivation.
“Sometimes when you are running by yourself, you get this little demon on your shoulder and Bentley-Grace is like the angel who encourages you to keep going," Nasser said.
The two are undefeated as a team but their biggest goal is on the horizon.
After falling just a few minutes short twice – they qualified for the Boston Marathon.
It's their chance to break the record.
"There are no words," Fredda said. “It’s what every parent wants, their children to be happy and to live a life that is meaningful, and right now that’s running for her.”
The race in Boston is on Monday, Oct. 11.
There is no limit to what the "Race for Grace" will accomplish beyond then.
"There are endless possibilities. She is going to do all she can dream of," Fredda said.
The Hicks family said they are deeply grateful to the Kyle Pease Foundation in Atlanta for connecting her to her running partner, equipment, and for opening new possibilities in her life and the lives of others with disabilities.