My competitive running career began in 2005. It began with two legs. In high school, I was the Georgia High School State Champion in the 800m and 1600m as a junior. Life was good! But it wasn’t as good as it could be.
Although I loved running, I didn’t love the pain that came from the compartment syndrome that infected my right leg. Surgery after surgery, I still wasn’t able to walk, let alone run, without pain. One day, I reached my breaking point. I headed to the school track determined to run no matter what kind of pain I had to suffer. As I sprinted around the track, I finally fell to the ground weeping and yelling at God. He had to have a better plan for me than this.
The pain kept getting worse and with the pain came more self-induced remedies to make the pain a little less. As I ran away from God in anger from the pain, I turned to drinking, sex and drugs. I decided that if the plan the Lord had for me was a life with pain and no running, I wanted nothing to do with Him.
On Jan. 6, 2010, after fighting with God for so long, I gave up trying to do things on my own. I felt the Lord’s presence stronger than I had ever felt it before. It was as if He were telling me, “Jarryd, you don’t need anyone or anything to get closer to Me. I am right here, I always have been, and I always will be. I am just waiting for you, Jarryd, to stop running from Me, and start running with Me.”
That was the day that everything changed. I realized then that I needed the Lord’s help and guidance. The only reason those past two years had felt so hard was because I was trying to do everything on my own. I just had to trust Him. I knew that there was nothing I could do to change what had already happened, and I had no idea what to expect from there on out. All I knew how to do was trust Him.
A month later, I was deciding to have my leg amputated. I knew it was the right thing to do, and I was so thankful that the Lord was going to be on the journey with me. A moment where, as a 19-year-old boy, I had heard the scariest thing imaginable, with the Lord’s strength it sounded like the greatest news ever. It was as if the Lord had spent the past two years preparing me for that moment.
Just before my surgery that June, I felt an astonishing amount of peace and a mere sense of excitement knowing that I was eight hours away from the rest of my life. I asked for my family to come huddle around me as I took the last few moments before the surgery to pray over them. My prayer was simple, “Lord, the strength, the peace, and the comfort You have given me over the past four months since I made the decision to have my leg cut off, would You please take it from me and instill it on my family’s hearts right now. I am about to go to sleep and I do not need it anymore, Father, but I know that my family needs Your comfort now more than ever. Thank You, Father, for Your mercy, and I cannot wait to enter into the next stage of my life where You, and only You, will receive all of the glory. Amen.”
In 2011, in my third race ever as an amputee, I won a gold medal. I got down on my knee and all I could think to say was, “Really, God! Really?! Thank you so much! Only with You was this possible!” I found out the next day that the time I ran in that race ranked me as the fastest single amputee for the 100m in 2011. I was number one in the world! God is so good!
From day one my eyes have been set on running in the 2012 Paralympics in London and setting world records. Although these may have seemed like lofty dreams and goals, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t set them and then “Run4Him” after them.
—Jarryd Wallace, USA Track and Field Paralympian