In 1989, when a 6-year-old from Orange Park, Fla., made her Junior National debut, organizers wondered if they were witnessing the future of disability sports. Within four years, that girl was dominating the Junior Nationals. Last year, at 13, she became the youngest U.S. track athlete in Olympic and Paralympic history, and the youngest in any sport to win a gold medal.

LeAnn Shannon

LeAnn Shannon

Today, Shannon is challenging racers twice her age on their own turf, but her athletic career had an inauspicious beginning. Nine years ago, LeAnn’s parents, Ann and Lee Shannon, drove to a wheelchair sports meet with their 5-year-old daughter and