Inspiring local High School Teacher heads to Chicago for Maratho - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Inspiring local High School Teacher heads to Chicago for Marathon

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Millayna Klingback Millayna Klingback
SPOKANE, Wash. - Millayna Klingback is a French and English teacher at Mt Spokane High School, and she has spent the last few months training for the upcoming Chicago Marathon.

And, in addition to running the Chicago Marathon, she is simultaneously raising money for the Phoenix Society, a non-profit organization that supports burn victims. And this is an organization that is very near and dear to Millayna's heart.

Millayna sports a phoenix tattoo on her foot because she had to "rise above" a terrible cooking accident that left 2nd degree burns on 13% of her skin in December 2007.

"I remember going into shock right away," said Millayna. "Because I had this surreal experience telling myself, don't look down...I didn't want to see how bad it was."

Millayna didn't want any pictures taken of her from her time healing in the hospital.

"I didn't want pictures because I didn't want to know, didn't want to remember," she said. "I just didn't want this to be happening, and if there was no record, it'd be easy to forget."

But, during her long physical and emotional recovery, she realized this event would be impossible to forget. And, Millayna decided instead to embrace her new scars, and move forward with a new attitude.

"The thing about a burn, or debilitating, deforming injury [like this] is once you get over fighting to live, once that's settled, then you have to fight to 'live' in your life, with this thing you can't hide from," explained Millayna.

Millayna started to focus far less on her physical appearance - something, at the end of the day, is completely out of all of our control. She instead now focuses on her listening skills and ability to connect with the people she encounters in her life - what she brings from her heart.

"My scars are part of my story," Millayna said. "And they're what make me more beautiful. I have this depth, I wear it around."

And now, Millayna's scars are her most prized vulnerability. Embracing them allows her to more whole-heartedly and genuinely connect with her high school students, who, like Millayna did after her accident, often deal with physical insecurities during their high school years.

"If we all take the time to break down the walls and be a little vulnerable, so many people would feel less alone, and that's one of the reasons why I'm doing this race," she said.

Her students said that Millayna's experiences make her a more inspiring and understanding teacher.

"She's taught us not to be ashamed of what happens in life," explained one of her French students, Ileisa Oleson. "You have to deal with it, find something inspirational about it, and make it better."

Another one of her French students, Jeff Updike said Millayna teaches her students that "no matter how broken down you are, you have to get back up."

Because, whether you are running through the halls of a high school, or running 26.2 miles through Chicago, it's hard to even see what's at surface. And, what's at surface level really does pale in comparison to everything else.

"I can lose my looks even more than I already have," said Millayna. "But my brain and heart, nobody can take that - investing in that, you're going to get all your money back and more."

If you're interested in learning more about Millayna and the Phoenix Society, you can look at her donations page here: http://www.active.com/donate/teamphoenixchicago14/millayna

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