SARATOGA SPRINGS — Alejandro de Santiago knew running changed his wife.

He knew it helped her cope with anxiety, made her feel better physically, and it brought new friends into her life.

What he didn’t know is how important that new community would become to his family in their darkest moment.

“I knew there were many friends she met running,” he said. “But they were just running friends. They never hang out or anything, and they’d just meet for runs or during races. I didn’t know that they really loved Paula to that degree.”

Paula de Santiago began running in 2007.

“She suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, and she’d tried many different things,” Alejandro said. “Nothing could really help her. She was introduced to running by a friend, and she just loved it.” She started with small, community 5Ks and then moved onto bigger races and longer distances, including half marathons, marathons and triathlons.

Courtesy de Santiago family

Paula de Santiago poses with the youngest of her five children, Ben, after a race. Paula was badly injured in an accident in November 2015, and her friends organized a 5K to help the family with medical bills. This year is the third annual Run4Paula 5K in Saratoga Springs.

“She was happier,” her husband said. “She just loved to do it. Then it created a network of friends who loved to do that too. … She introduced me to it, and I participated in a Ragnar and a triathlon with her.”

Alejandro was working in his home office on Nov. 24, 2015, when Paula said she was leaving to pick up three of their children and take them to the dentist. He was working at home with their youngest son, Ben, who was 5 at the time and home sick that day.

“About a half hour later, I got a phone call from a detective telling me to sit down,” he said. “He told me my wife was involved in a very, very bad accident, and they were in the process of flying her out to a hospital. He asked if I was OK with that. At that moment, my heart sunk.”

His oldest son had borrowed his car to go to work, so he called his Latter-day Saint bishop to see if he could give him a ride to the hospital. As they drove, Alejandro saw the road near their house was shut down. She’d crashed just five minutes from her house.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “I didn’t even know what to expect. We have five children, and I didn’t even think about letting them know.”

Courtesy de Santiago family

Paula and Alejandro de Santiago enjoy a night out. Paula was badly injured in an accident in November 2015, and her friends organized a 5K to help the family with medical bills. This year is the third annual Run4Paula 5K in Saratoga Springs.

When he arrived at the hospital, his wife was in extremely critical condition with a perforated lung, fractured …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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