Emerson Sieling exudes joy.
"Everyone knows when Emerson has entered a room," said her mom, Andrea Sieling, while sitting next to Emerson in their Frisco home.
"What are you trying to say?" Emerson asked with a hint of friendly sarcasm.
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"You are a very happy person," her mom answered.
Emerson's excitement grows when it comes to racing.
"She is my adrenaline junky, she likes to go fast," Andrea said.
This fall is Emerson's third season competing with Team Hoyt. It's a running team with a quest for inclusion.
Emerson is a "rider athlete." Her pusher is ultra-marathoner Sadie Briggs who makes it a point not to run too slow.
"Oh my gosh! She lets you know," Sadie said with a laugh. "Emerson likes to go fast, and that's where we're looking for some faster pushers because she likes to race."
Alongside her pushers, Emerson has completed 18 races.
"She likes to get out there and feel the wind on her face and she has a smile on her face coming across the finish line and is always giggling," Andrea said. "So, she enjoys it thoroughly."
Even though Emerson rides in a chair during the race, she is the one who is the competitor, not the person pushing her.
"When Emerson and I race together, Emerson is the athlete. I'm simply the legs," Sadie said. "It's Emerson's heart, it's Emerson's spirit, it's Emerson's energy that is getting us across that line."
So she is the one who earns the medal, and she's acquired quite a few of them.
Emerson has completed 5Ks, 10Ks and even a half marathon, which was a difficult accomplishment, especially because of Emerson's health challenges.
"To not be able to produce body heat as you're going for 13.1 miles, and to just have the spirit and fight to want to get to the next mile marker and the next mile marker and to finish — that is unbelievable," Sadie said.
Emerson is diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, and has undergone 21 surgeries, endless hospital stays and continues to battle a delicate immune system, but none of it has affected her spirit.
When her mom was asked what she'd learned from her daughter, Andrea said, "there's nothing that can hold you back. There's nothing that's too hard to get past. Every day you walk into this child's room and she has a smile on her face."
And for Sadie, who created the Texas chapter of Team Hoyt so people locally could run for athletes like Emerson, it's giving her each step a greater purpose.
Sadie said it's been, "Incredible. Very emotional. It's just, I have only one talent in life and it's running and I always wondered, 'Why? Why can't I sing, or dance or do something more?' And then we were able to meet people like Emerson, and I realized why I do what I do. And we get to be the legs for people who can't run themselves," Sadie said. "It's been moving, it's been life-changing and I'm so grateful to know all the athletes that we have."
Together, they're providing a moving message of inclusion with Emerson's smile leading the way.
Sadie said Team Hoyt needs more "rider athletes." If you know someone who might qualify, click here.
You can cheer on Emerson, Sadie, and the rest of Team Hoyt Texas at their next race, which is the 2018 BMW Dallas Half Marathon on December 9.