People who know Mandy Steele say that she has a huge heart and a humble demeanor, which friends adore.
Mandy completed the final leg of a mini-marathon last year at the age of 18, only a few weeks before she was set to get her high school diploma from Haworth High School in Oklahoma. Who knew that these events would lead her to a near-death experience?
Mandy could not breathe for more than 40 minutes because her heart had stopped. Her parents were advised by doctors to prepare for the worst, but that did not stop her from achieving her dream.
She beat the odds and participated in the same event she collapsed in a year ago this month. She didn't run the half marathon but finished her first 5K after almost passing out. She then crossed over to the alternate course to complete the final section of the mini-marathon from the previous year.
Mandy, who represents the Choctaw Nation in Idabel, Oklahoma as the District 1 Princess, was unaware of what transpired at the 2015 Vike Pike event. Lydia McClure, Mandy's grandma, who transports her granddaughter to competitions, witnessed her granddaughter reach the last turn of the 13.1-mile race.
McClure believed she was in the clear and went to the finish line to see her granddaughter cross it, but Mandy didn't. She continued to look.
Mandy Steele’s heart stopped during the last moments of her half-marathon.
Just a few seconds after McClure and a race volunteer, Twila Bickford, noticed Mandy. When Mandy placed her hands on her thighs, Bickford assumed the adolescent was having trouble breathing. Mandy passed out less than a second later. Bickford ran to her side and noticed she wasn't breathing.
McClure soon recognized the girl they were aiding was her granddaughter after returning to the turn to check for Mandy. Others surrounded her, so she was unable to approach her.
A helicopter flew Mandy more than 120 miles away to Tulsa.
Doctors warned the family that things were getting really bad approximately two weeks after her heart attack.
Mandy's heart issue was treated by doctors by implanting a pacemaker. She was able to graduate from Haworth High School on time. She plans to enroll in college this autumn.
After months of recovery, Mandy returned to the race where she had passed out on March 28, 2015. Mandy finished the 5K despite her confessed fear.
In April 2016, Mandy Steele crossed the finish line. The 2015 Vike Hike Medal was given to Mandy by Jessica Hall, who assisted in performing CPR on her during the race in 2015.
Bickford attended this year's Mandy victory party. Under a clear sky, the audience clapped as Mandy crossed the finish line and started hugging her loved ones.