St. Pete track club founder loses foot to diabetes - WFLA News Channel 8

St. Pete track club founder loses foot to diabetes

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Garlynn Boyd (center) Garlynn Boyd (center)
Boyd undergoing physical therapy Boyd undergoing physical therapy
Garlynn Boyd (center).  She founded the Lightning Bolt Track Club. Garlynn Boyd (center). She founded the Lightning Bolt Track Club.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (WFLA) -

At Gibbs High School, every Monday through Friday from 6 to 8 p.m., members of the Lightning Bolt Youth Track Club are training.

"They've always been a family to me," said 17-year-old sprinter Trayvon Brommell, a ten-year veteran of the club who will run for Baylor next year.

They matriarch of the family is Garlynn Boyd, who founded the club in 1991 to help area youth and give them a chance to run track and field.

"Coach Boyd is truly, truly inspirational," said Dermillo Wise, a former runner who is now a coach for the club. "She did so much for me. From getting me to school, to keeping me out of trouble to showing me that there is something better in life."  Wise went on to run for the University of Oklahoma, earning All-America honors as a hurdler in 2007.

But these days, Boyd has been absent from daily workouts.

She is in a St. Petersburg health rehab center fighting the most recent effects from diabetes, a disease she has dealt with for twenty years.

"Since 2010 is really when everything started being a downward spiral," Boyd said.

It spiraled to the point where, months ago, a cut on her right foot would not heal. As a result, she had to have her leg amputated below knee in May.

Boyd now works out twice a day trying to learn how to walk again.

"The most challenging thing that I'm finding is standing from my wheelchair to a standing position," Boyd said.

But typical of Boyd, she keeps a positive outlook. "I can't just lay down and give up. I've got a 14-year-old son I've got to raise, and I've got kids on the track who are counting on me," she said.

Over the years, the Lightning Bolt Youth Track Club has grown into the Lightning Bolt Youth Sports Academy, providing training for eight different sports.

Boyd still handles the club's day-to-day business from the rehab center.  But she wasn't able to be at the track meet in New Mexico on June 9 to see Brommell run a 9.99-second 100 meter race, becoming the first American high school sprinter to break the ten-second barrier.

Even though Brommell's time does not qualify for records because it was deemed to be wind-aided, "I'm proud," Boyd said. "The staff is proud. That's a kid from the Lightning Bolt Track Club who has done something no one else has accomplished."

And Brommell said he can identify with Boyd's struggles. He has had to overcome broken bones in both knees and his hip that threatened his running career.  "The situation that she's in, seeing her going through it and staying strong, it may me feel like I could do the same," Brommell said.

"[Coach Boyd] remains as an inspiration to everybody," said Wise. "We run for her. No matter the circumstances, she's always remained a wonderful person at heart." 

And Boyd gets frequent visitors during her recovery.

"I've had coaches. I've had kids come by. I get phone calls. It makes you feel good that you're loved," said Boyd, who hopes to be out of the rehab center in a month or two. "I'm looking forward to getting my prosthetic," she said, "because then I can put my team logo on it."

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