The Woman Who can Fly: Lacey Henderson’s Journey to the Paralympic Games

By: Grace Varga ‘20

LISTEN: Phone interview with Lacey Henderson ’07

Her gaze focuses down the runway. The roars of the crowd fill the stadium but she hears nothing.

“Just remember you are powerful, Lacey,” she tells herself, “Remember your power.”

Lacey Henderson ‘07 represents the  United States in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games

She is focused on the jump ahead. It’s the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games. Regis Jesuit graduate, Lacey Henderson sprints down the runway and springs herself into the bed of sand. 3.33 meters. That one jump landed Lacey Henderson into 8th place worldwide.

Before she made her way to the Paralympics, Lacey grew up in Colorado.

“Colorado will always be home. I have traveled a lot for track and field but Colorado will always be a special place,” says Lacey.

Lacey carries a piece of Colorado with her wherever she travels through her customized prosthetic decorated with the Colorado flag. She left compelled to customize her prosthetic in such a way because she “[has] always had so much pride in where [she] came from and it was a way to pay homage.”

Lacey Henderson stays focused during her long jump in the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

When she was nine years old, Lacey had her leg amputated due to synovial sarcoma, a rare form of soft-tissue cancer. She didn’t let it stop her.

Lacey attended Regis Jesuit in the graduating class of 2007. During her time here, she competed with varsity cheer and sang in the choir.

“Regis is a huge part of what shaped me into, not only the athlete that I am, but also the person that I am and how I treat others,” Lacey said.

When Lacey Henderson’s name is mentioned to teachers that have been at Regis since the start, their faces light up.

“There was a certain maturity that Lacey had that one one else did,” Mr. Bernie Sauer says as he recounts his time teaching Lacey, “She knew how to handle stress and setbacks.”

Lacey started to consider track after her dad bet her that he could beat her in the sport. It was then that she realized she was already running at a pace close to Paralympic times. With her determined spirit, she set her mind on track and field and began to train.

“You need to be willing to expand yourself if you want to start a sport and excel. You have to understand that it requires consistent work and the progress isn’t always linear,” Lacey states.

While Lacey has already wildly succeeded, she is not done pushing herself. She now has her eye set on the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. She also has her mind set on expanding her brand of self empowerment. Lacey is an advocate for the disabled community—the largest minority in the world— as well as an advocate for everyone, disabled or abled. She is also gives great praise of Regis Jesuit’s inclusion of the Special Olympics club.

“There is always something beneficial and beautiful about mixing communities. The disabled community doesn’t get a lot of light shone on it,” Lacey says, “being able to interact with people that are different than you bridges gaps that we as a society make and it normalizes things that are scary to people that aren’t exposed to it. It is empowering to the disabled community because it gives them a voice.”

Lacey continues to spread empowerment and positivity through her social media platforms and other outlets. Check out her blog HERE.

Lacey Henderson will never stop being a woman with and for others and she will never stop striving for a better jump, a better run, or a better world. She is a force to be reckoned with and a role model to all.