Girl, 12, who lost legs in Russian missile attack, runs at Ukraine city half-marathon
A 12-year-old Ukrainian girl, who made the news in 2022 when she lost her legs in a Russian missile attack, made headlines again on Sunday when she took to the cobbled streets of Lviv at the city’s half-marathon.
Yana Stepanenko and her mother, Ms Natalia Stepanenko, were among thousands attempting to flee eastern Ukraine in April 2022, shortly after the invasion by neighbouring Russia, which calls it a “special military operation”.
A Russian missile hit the Kramatorsk train station on the morning of April 8, killing nearly 60 people and injuring more than 100, according to the Ukrainian government.
The two of them were knocked unconscious by the impact of the missile and when they came to, Ms Stepanenko realised she had lost a leg, while her daughter Yana, then 11, had lost both of hers.
“I couldn’t get up. It was very painful – I looked at my legs and cried,” Yana told international non-governmental organisation United for Ukraine.
Yana and her mother started walking again in July 2022 after receiving prosthetic legs in San Diego, California, through assistance from the United States’ Right to Walk Foundation.
They were flown to California for treatment after spending a few months at a hospital in the western Ukraine city of Lviv.
On Sunday, Yana ran at the Lviv half-marathon with a group of runners with crutches and missing limbs.
Yana ran 70m, according to CNN. In a video posted by race organiser Run Ukraine, the 12-year-old in pink can be seen navigating the cobbled streets with her prosthetic legs after being counted off at the start line.
“I’ve only recently got running prostheses, and I usually wear regular ones. So I’m just learning to run, a little scared because I’m not used to it yet,” Yana said, as cited by the Lviv city council.
“But I want to support children who have also lost their legs and cannot run. I want them to see what I’m doing and say to themselves, ‘Yes! I can do it too! I can run too!’”
Run Ukraine said the event was being held on the 557th day of the new reality, referring to the number of days since Russia’s invasion began on Feb 24, 2022.
“Ukrainians were expected to fall in 72 hours, yet they kept running until Day 557 and will keep running until the finish line. Until our victory,” the race organiser added on its website.
Around 1,900 people ran at the half-marathon, which has been held every year since 2016 except for 2022.