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Hoover distance runner Emily Knerr overcomes cancer, inspires team

Updated: Apr. 30, 2021 at 6:04 PM CDT
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HOOVER, Ala. (WBRC) - She may not be the fastest runner on the track, but Emily Knerr knows one thing, Hoover track has helped save her life.

“One hundred percent. My mom has always said that, that running is the best thing that has ever happened to me and I agree,” The Hoover distance runner said.

At 6-years-old, Knerr was diagnosed with ovarian cancer with a 4% chance survival rate. After several treatments and surgery, she says she was blessed to beat it. Six years later and that’s when she found herself lacing up.

“I started running because of all the treatment, I was really small and running was the one thing that I could do decently well with my size and I fell in love with it immediately,” Knerr said.

In middle school, Knerr was thriving on the track, but two days before her 13th birthday, her cancer came back and so did the surgeries and treatment. Now at 18-years-old, Knerr is a two-time cancer survivor and says running helped her do it.

“Throughout that whole thing I found comfort in running because I had done it before and I think because I had run to start with, I was in such good health and I was able to survive again,” the Hoover High School senior said.

From being part of Hoover’s second place finish at the AHSAA state cross-country championships to almost breaking a 6:00 minute mile, Knerr’s running journey has inspired those around her.

“She’s here, without excuse, all the time, she runs whether she feels good or not and that’s strength,” said Hoover track coach Devon Hind.

“I think it’s inspired them to keep pushing, keep going because they’ve seen me having to bounce back time and time again,” said Knerr.

And that’s what she’ll continue to do, bounce back. Knerr, who is not at the state track meet this weekend, had surgery last week to remove another tumor. “I’ve been better, but I’m making it. I’ve been keeping myself preoccupied with family and friends which helps a lot,” Knerr said.

Knerr will attend the University of Alabama next year where she hopes to major in Childhood Development.

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