Illinois Runner Conquers Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon After Open Heart Surgery

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Nov. 6, 2022) – It wasn’t long ago that Stephanie Grosso of Illinois had trouble walking down a short hallway without having to stop to catch her breath. Now, two years removed from open heart surgery, Grosso has defied the odds and is not only walking comfortably but also just completed the 2022 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon on Sunday.

In fact, Grosso ran the 5K and 10K in addition to the half marathon this weekend at Disney – a total of 22.4 miles. And now she plans to run every runDisney race this season, which would mean 13 total races and nearly 113 miles.

A couple of years ago, Grosso, 36, had what is called a bicuspid aortic valve, which can cause chest pains, shortness of breath and difficulty exercising. Just before having open heart surgery to repair the problem, Grosso vowed that if she survived and was given a second chance at life, she would get into distance running.

Eight months later, she ran her first 5K.

After she learned to trust her heart again, she set her sights on runDisney races so she could run through Cinderella Castle, which she accomplished last year. Sunday, during the 13.1-mile half marathon, she got to run through Disney’s Hollywood Studios and EPCOT.

The Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend is the first of four race weekends at Walt Disney World Resort this race season. Next up is the 30th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (Jan. 4-8, 2023). Runners can learn more about runDisney at  at