GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Out of all the chaos, a happy ending.
Brielle De Marco was trampled at the AAU Junior Olympics Tuesday after people mistook a fight for a shooting at the NC A&T stadium. When FOX8 crews first spoke to Brielle’s parents, they weren’t sure she’d be able to compete on Wednesday.
But the eight-year-old didn’t let her physical or emotional injuries stop her from running.
“I just wanted to run because I really like running,” Brielle said.
That was a good enough reason for her parents to let her race. Brielle qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics this year after only one year of participating in the sport.
“She set this goal for herself, and we just made sure we got her here,” said her mother, Arvonne De Marco.
Brielle’s chance to achieve that goal was almost taken away from her after panic sent thousands rushing toward the exit of the stadium, stepping on Brielle in the process.
“My mom said ‘come on,’ and I didn’t hear her because when she looked down, I wasn’t there because I was running, and then I got trampled,” Brielle said.
The runner had scrapes and cuts up and down her legs. Not sure whether the 8-year-old would be able to run, the family almost packed their bags and headed home to California.
“Last night, we were bandaging her up and everything, and she was like ‘no, I still want to run tomorrow,'” Arvonne said. “I was like ‘really? OK.'”
Brielle even practiced her stretches to prove she could compete. She did compete and beat her personal record in the 400-meter race.
“She ran a 1:27.42, so that’s with the injuries and all the commotion and trauma from yesterday,” Arvonne said.
It wasn’t fast enough to qualify but an accomplishment, nonetheless.
“I was hoping that I would go to finals, but I didn’t make it,” Brielle said. “My mom and dad and grandmother said that they were still proud of me.”
The track and field events at NCA&T State University will continue through Saturday.
Brielle’s races are done. She’s looking forward to continuing her track career and hopefully qualifying for the Junior Olympics next year.