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'The Notebook' more than romance for Paralympian Tatyana McFadden

Chicago Tribune

"The Notebook" is a movie that holds a romantic meaning to many of its viewers, but for Paralympian and University of Illinois graduate Tatyana McFadden, it has a deeper connection. 

McFadden was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, with spina bifida, a condition that paralyzed her from the waist down. Her mother abandoned her in an orphqnaoge that was too poor to get her a wheelchair, which forced her to learn how to walk on her arms and her hands for the first part of her life.

"We can learn from different stories from different people, and how we've all gotten to where we are today," McFadden said as part of a video series. 

McFadden was one several athletes featured in Fandango's "I Love Movies: Rio Olympic Edition" series, which was released Wednesday. She talked about her favorite parts of the movie, including a scene where Ryan Gosling's character hangs on a Ferris wheel in an attempt to get a date with Rachel McAdams' character. 

The first rollout of videos that featured Ryan Lochte ("Belly"), Missy Franklin ("Bend It Like Beckham") and Matt Grevers ("Gladiator") was released on May 25. 

McFadden has won the last 12 Grand Slam marathons - Boston, London, Chicago, New York -  making her the first able-bodied or otherwise to win four major marathons for three years. She also took part in the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Paralympic Games, earning 10 medals. 

Some might not see the connection between the romantic movie and the Olympics, but McFadden explains: "What's relatable maybe to the 'Notebook' for an Olympian is that he fights for true love, and we should all definitely have that in our lives.

"But as all athletes, we fight to get that medal."

While the movie holds a special meaning for McFadden, the romantic aspect isn't lost on her. 

"I hope my ending is as happy as 'The Notebook' ... maybe I'll have the same love story." 

mdwojak@tribpub.com

Twitter @mdwojak94

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