Paralympic hopeful McKayla Hanson shares journey with ABC12 - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Paralympic hopeful McKayla Hanson shares journey with ABC12

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(04/29/14) - It's a journey we've been following for nearly two decades.

When she was just 7 years old, McKayla Hanson fought bone cancer - and won. But winning - meant losing her right leg.

Now at age 26, she's ready to take on another challenge - one that could take her from Genesee County all the way to the medal stand in Rio.

In the mid-90's, McKayla underwent three surgeries to amputate her right leg as part of her fight against a rare form of bone cancer.

She doesn't view her prosthetic leg as a problem - even as she was jump-roping as a child or raising the bar on the junior high track team.

Now, she's ready for a new challenge.

"When I got into the sport of triathlon, I was first doing relays. So, I would just do the swim and then two other people cover the bike and then the run," she said.

McKayla eventually learned to use a race-chair for the run and a hand-cycle for the biking portion of the triathlon.

Now, she's competing 100 percent on her own.

Last year, she did the Crim hand-cycle event on a Saturday and the following day finished her first full para-triathlon in Chicago.

"And that's when I'm like, 'I'm in the sport for good,'" she said.

That's impressive, but she's not even close to the finish line yet.

"Once I do the one in Arizona, then that will bump me up to Worlds, and then after Worlds, it would be the Brazil," she said.

Brazil, as in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, immediately following the summer Olympics.

"It's a ladder, like you got to make sure your name is out there. They want to know that you're in this sport, and you're serious about it," she said.

As if isn't enough, McKayla is also working on her masters degree in prosthetics and orthotics at Eastern Michigan University.

After the Paralympics, she dreams of working with kids taking their first steps - along the same journey.

"I was so young when I lost my legs, so I can relate more to little kids, you know, and the challenges they have to deal with," she said.

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