Jillian Williams, a Coastal Bend girl who has battled cancer and is working to start a nonprofit to help others do the same, is trying out for the 2020 Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.
The cancer she had required that her left leg be amputated, but that did not stop Williams from pursuing her dreams. She is currently trying out for the USA sitting volleyball team.
"It's in me to drive and keep going where I want to be," Williams said.
Two years ago, Williams was diagnosed with a type of cancer that lead to rotation-plasty. A portion of Williams' leg was removed, and the remaining limb was rotated and reattached.
"My foot now functions as my knee joint," Williams said.
While battling cancer, Williams learned at 18 that she had aged out of most programs that help kids going through cancer. Williams said it is a gap that needs to be filled, so she created a nonprofit called Live-N-Leap.
"It was kind of frustrating, and I asked other patients and that's how the seed was planted, and I took off with it," Williams said. "What we envision is some of them wanting a trip, some of them wanting a computer. We're at the age where the fun things, the little things, they mean a lot to us but we're going to college starting off our lives."
Williams, an Odem native, is chronicling her life through pictures that will be used for an art auction to raise money for Live-N-Leap. While juggling a nonprofit, Williams is taking a quick break from school and trying out for the Paralympics.
"It kind of sparked a fire in me to do it and go with it and live out a dream," Williams said. "With this, I've learned a lot with cancer. A lot. You have to sit back and take it in, and look at life and see what counts and what matters the most."
It is the mindset of a winner, and Williams hopes that mindset will lead her to a gold medal.
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