Colorado Resident Conquers Her First-Ever Race at Walt Disney World Resort After Life-Saving Lung Transplant Surgery

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (Feb. 24, 2024) – Four years after a double lung transplant, Kim Schaefer, 67, from Windsor, Colorado conquered the Disney Princess 10K presented by CORKCICLE with her family, Disney cast members and even Minnie Mouse cheering for her at the finish line at Walt Disney World Resort. Before her life was saved by doctors and an organ donor, Schaefer was battling interstitial lung disease and needed two oxygen machines just to move around her home. Her 2020 transplant enabled her to join the running event for the first time, scripting her Disney fairy tale of perseverance. 

Schaefer first noticed symptoms during a family vacation in 2010, experiencing difficulties breathing. After years of medical tests and different treatments, Schaefer was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease which causes progressive scarring of lung tissue and limits the amount of oxygen flowing into a person’s bloodstream.  Schaefer’s health continued to decline with the additional diagnoses of sarcoidosis and pulmonary hypertension in 2019.  

In 2020, Schaefer became a double lung transplant candidate and was told by doctors she faced 50 percent survival odds due to age and other factors. 

Schaeffer overcame those challenges in part by focusing on running. She said envisioning the runDisney race kept her motivated throughout her training. Today she turned that vision into a reality by completing the 10K during the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend. She celebrated the emotional moment with her daughter and granddaughter, who ran the 6.2-mile race with her and said they will continue the celebration by spending the rest of the weekend visiting the theme parks at Walt Disney World. 

The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend continues with the half marathon on Sunday and yoga on Monday.  

The race weekend is the third of four on-site race weekends at Walt Disney World during the 2023-24 runDisney season. Next is the runDisney Springtime Surprise Weekend (April 18-21). These races, which include runners of all fitness levels, provide the opportunity to run through Disney theme parks, experience world-class entertainment and earn unique Disney medals. 

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