Born and raised in Raleigh, Mariah grew up spending her summers in New Bern with her brother and cousins.
She started dancing at five years old, earning a spot on a competitive dance team by the time she was eight. Between dance and school, Mariah’s self-discipline formed at a young age. She remembers weeknights at the studio and practicing or competing on the weekends.
During her freshman year at N.C. State, Mariah started teaching dance full-time, designing choreography for both recreational classes and competitive teams. By her junior year, she realized she was destined to be a dance teacher.
Her career continued to flourish, until it was taken away.
On June 1, 2009, the course of Mariah’s life would change.
On her way to work, an undiscovered glitch in Mariah’s vehicle rolled her into the middle of an intersection, which led to a driver’s side t-bone collision, her car flipping multiple times, and the jaws of life prying a conscious Mariah out of mangled metal.
Hospital tests cleared Mariah of broken bones, lacerations, and a concussion. The bruises and scratches were nothing significant, and she was able to go home the same day.
But, as many people experience, injuries can appear days, weeks, even months after the accident. A week after the crash, Mariah learned her L4 and L5 discs ruptured. After two months of alternative treatments, Mariah caved to the treatment to tried to avoid – spinal fusion surgery.
With a titanium rod to put Mariah back together, she literally became #IronMariah, but wouldn’t immediately realize the depth of her strength.
Jennifer Hoverstad is following Mariah on her training journey to Raleigh’s IRONMAN. Follow us on Twitter @eatpraylovenc and @jenhoverstad or join the conversation with #IronMariah.