I just returned home from the 2018 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, presented by Cigna. Every runner (including myself) has their own story to tell. I’d like to introduce you to Sonya, who ran the Run Disney Marathon Weekend 5k. Her story is inspiring AND she is from the Atlanta area too! She fought against the odds and became a winner with Run Disney and Cigna.
Inspiration From Run Disney Marathon Weekend 5k
Sonya Hazel, 42 years old and resident of Riverdale, Ga. near Atlanta, didn’t have a chance to avoid that truck on February 23, 2017.
The driver attempted to pass her while texting and driving. Like many distracted drivers, he misjudged the distance knocking Sonya’s car out of control. Her vehicle finally came to a stop after hitting a passenger van and breaking a highway wall. When the police officer arrived on the scene, she could hear him talking to the dispatcher. Judging by the vehicle, he thought she died in the
“Before the officer arrived, I couldn’t feel my legs and, as silly as it sounds, I remember thinking my husband would be so upset when he saw the car,” said Sonya. “When the officer ducked down to see inside the vehicle, I startled him when I spoke.”
The emergency room doctor thought she might have gotten away with just a sprain and applied a temporary cast. When she visited the orthopedic surgeon, he took x-rays and found a serious break. The injury caused so much swelling that she needed to wait several weeks until April before surgery could be performed. The mental scars might last the longest.
“To this day, I haven’t been able to drive my car very far,” said Sonya. “The few times I’ve driven, I just pray and play loud music to focus on driving and everything around me.”
Following four to six weeks of therapy that ended in October, she said she felt about 85 percent back. As a mom of five children including four adults and one seven-year-old daughter, she feels the hole of that extra 15 percent still ahead of her.
“I still can’t do certain things,” said Sonya. “Before the accident, I was always active. It’s been a real adjustment for my daughter. I’ll know I’m back at 100 percent when I’m able to keep up with her and run around with my grand son when he’s born next April.”
On the road to recovery and mentally itching to return to work, she asked more information on Cigna’s vocational coaching program. Soon after, she received a call from Bethany Roefs, her Cigna vocational coach, who offered assistance.
“Bethany comforts and encourages me throughout this process to help me get back to work,” said Sonya. “I feel she knows me and
cares about my situation. She’s been my liaison between my employer and me and has been right there throughout everything.”
“From the beginning, Sonya’s top goals included returning to work,” said Bethany. “Making sure she stayed on track, I helped coordinate between her doctor and employer to make sure she found the right return to work plan that allowed her to fully recovery without a setback.” Sonya’s looking forward to returning to work and getting back on track with her career.
“The day of the accident, my boss planned to talk with me about a promotion,” said Sonya. “Now, I’m looking forward to just earning a full paycheck again.”
One of the resources Bethany offered, the Cigna customer referral program with Achilles International, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people with disabilities participate in athletic events, helps people like Sonya build up physical strength and stamina.
Cigna partners with organizations like Achilles International to help customers achieve their return to work goals by providing access to additional rehabilitation resources including ergonomic office equipment, software, education and accommodations to help customers stay safe and be productive at work, encouragement and support, resume review and job placement assistance.
As a result of her hard work and dedication to return to work, Cigna offered Sonya the opportunity to participate in the Walt Disney World® Run Disney Marathon Weekend 5K presented by Cigna on Thursday, January 4 as a member of Team Cigna.
“When Bethany talked about my progress and asked if I felt ready for a 5K, I assumed she meant a local race,” said Sonya. “Then she told me Disney – surprised doesn’t quite say it. I’m grateful and see it as a challenge to get my body over that last physical hurdle.”
The Cigna Customer Referral Program with Achilles International demonstrates Cigna’s promise to partner with customers “Together, All the Way” along their unique health journey. When injury or illness occurs, Cigna helps them get back on track to achieve their goals. She was guided by Joan Harvey, vice president of consumer health engagement for Cigna, on the race course.
“For Cigna customers, participating in a race represents a healthy milestone on the road to recovery, but also independence,” said
Bethany. “As people gain physical strength, they also build confidence, which can positively affect all areas of your life.”
Registration for 2019 Run Disney Marathon Weekend Opens in February.