FORT SMITH, Ark. - Anya Sifuentes had a major life change this past fall. She found herself and her family homeless.
“It was late September that things just started getting strange,” Anya told KFSM. “On Oct. 1, I went home right after I went to school and realized that I couldn’t get in my home anymore.”
She called her coach, Jeff Smith, and told him that she had no home and no clothes.
Then she was told by her mother that the teen was on her own. The teen not only was left to fend for herself but care for three children -- her two siblings and nephew.
“My mom started really acting weird and you could tell that she was late on all of her bills and she wasn’t acting the same anymore,” Anya told KFSM. “My mom said that ‘I’m not gonna stay with y’all.’ I thought, ‘Why?’”
The teen had to get extra jobs and find an apartment while going to school full time and still taking part in track. She also had to pay the family’s bills.
Instead of being brought down by her circumstances, she used running to rise above them, KFSM reported.
“Like they say, running away from your problems. That’s what I did,” Anya said. “ I literally ran away from my problems, even if it meant like 10 miles.”
She ran so much and so well she was granted a scholarship at the University of the Ozarks.
“I thought to myself, ‘God is the only thing that’s going to get me through all this pain,” Anya said.
Anya was inspired by her faith and running, to keep going even in the darkest of times.
“I just look back and think ‘This is who you are. You’re someone strong. You don’t give up easily. Even though times get rough, you have to keep going. Even though you fall down, you have to keep going,’” Anya said.