at the races Doctors didn’t know if she’d walk again. On Sunday, she’s running the...

Doctors didn’t know if she’d walk again. On Sunday, she’s running the Marathon.

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Jess Lambert was treated at the trauma centre at The Ottawa Hospital in 2014, and now supports the hospital by raising money through Run for a Reason.

Jess Lambert was given a 60/40 chance of ever walking again after a cliff jumping accident forced doctors at the Ottawa Hospital to fuse a rod to her broken spine. “When I woke up in the hospital, I was obviously in shock. My family was with me and to get that diagnosis of possibly not being able to walk again at 21 was heartbreaking,” says Lambert, who was told that, if she was going to one day walk again, then it would certainly have to be done with a cane. 

“After the news sunk in I was stubborn and determined—I knew that no matter what I was going to be able to walk again and the whole process was a huge mental game. I realized how strong you can be—even when you’re in a tough spot—when you lean on yourself and focus.” 

That focus will come into play on Sunday at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend when Jess Lambert lines up for her first marathon. In order to raise money for the Ottawa Hospital, Lambert, who was not a runner before her accident, will try completing 42.2K. A tall ordeal for anyone. But Lambert says that running helped her during her recovery—not only with her physical rehabilitation, but also with her mental health. Eight years after her accident, she’s hooked on our sport.  

“When I’m running I’m able to focus and I just started to fall in love with it. I feel like I could just keep going forever and I feel free—like myself,” says Lambert, who adds that she enjoys the fresh outdoor air, the camaraderie in the community and the atmosphere of the local races, in which she’s competed in distances from 5K to half marathon. “I knew after my half that I wanted to challenge myself and prove to people that no matter what’s your predicament, if you can control your mindset, you can do anything.” 

For everyone, running a marathon is a bucket list experience. The training is long and intense and the sacrifices are hard and can become overwhelming. In the case of Jess Lambert, running a marathon to raise money for the hospital which helped save her life, the marathon has provided her with a rallying point. A north star. She’s not only stunned the medical community, but inspired a whole wake of people in her rallying, running wave. “On Sunday, I want to inspire that one person down on their luck in the hospital going through a rough time,” Lambert says. “I want to be able to give back to the people who gave me my next step in life.”

Photographs courtesy of The Ottawa Hospital Foundation, and Jess.