Face of the Race: Lorie’s Story


PAXTON — A young woman with severe disabilities can’t walk or talk on her own, but she’s still her mom’s biggest cheerleader as she races towards her fitness goals.

Her mother, Lorie Coates, is running the Presence Health 5K this year. Crossing that finish line is about more than just completing 3.1 miles; it’s about being able to better care for her daughter. 

Every day for Coates and her daughter, Patricia, starts with a pre-workout boost: Patricia’s nutritional supplement administered through a tube. Next, Coates gets in gear and warms-up for lifting by changing Patricia’s clothes and lifting her into her wheelchair.

“It’s what I have grown accustomed to,” says Coates.

Photos show a much different picture of her daughter.

“That was one month before Patricia got shaken by her babysitter. And we actually had to go pick those pictures up,” says Coates. “I lost it when I saw  that smile. The photographer, he was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you don’t like the pictures.’”

But it was the opposite.

“They told us that she might die. She didn’t. She lived. So if I didn’t continue go getting the pictures, it would have been as if she did die. And she’s very much alive and here with us.”

But the pictures also show a much different Lorie.

“In the last year-and-a-half, I decided, I said, ‘I have to change,’” she said. “If I don’t take care of myself then Patricia’s going to fail. So I have to have the strength for both of us.”

That’s why, as soon as she lifts Patricia onto the bus to school, she’s on her way to the gym to do some more heavy lifting.

“I don’t believe in excuses. It’s a way of, just getting out of it.”

Now, she’s down 61 inches around. That’s 10 pants sizes.

“I feel absolutely fabulous.”

She has every reason in the world not to want to be at the gym. She says everything she does during the day to take care of her daughter can be stressful. But instead, she says the gym gives her the energy to keep going.

“I need that escape, even if it’s just an hour a day.”

That bit of self care means much more care for her daughter.

“You know, it’s hard to know what she thinks, but to be around her every day,” thinks Coates, “I would say she would be proud.”

It’s a weight on her shoulders she’s proud to carry.

“For me to be able to still have her and care for her 21-years later, I feel lucky and honored to still have her here with me.”

She credits the local gym, Nordic Total Fitness, with making it easy for her to get a workout in. While she usually focuses on strength training and cardio as a way of muscle building, she says running and getting a better time than last year is just one more motivating goal.

Coates has even been able to go off diabetes medicine since she started shedding the inches. 

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