FHS grad documenting wife’s 5k Irish journey

Nicholas “Nic” Cornett, a Farragut High School Class of 2004 graduate, and wife, Jan, will be heading to Dublin, Ireland, in August for a special reason.

A director of photography in Los Angeles and alumnus of The University of Tennessee, Nic will document Jan’s journey of overcoming her disability as she participates in Dublin Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon 10k and 5k.

Jan, who is paralyzed, is taking part in the 5k Aug. 12 and Aug. 13, and the couple is raising funds to pay for the trip.

“We’re shooting a documentary we’ve been doing for over a year now,” he said. “She’s trying to beat her time by at least 15 minutes, which is really hard for us, much less somebody who is paralyzed and trying to beat her own time.”

Nic has known Jan’s story for a long time, he said.

“Everybody who knows her story knows she is very inspirational,” he added.

The couple’s paths crossed numerous ways and times before they got together and ultimately married.

Nic first met her when he was akvolunteer at Shangri-La Therapeutic Academy of Riding in Lenior City, where she was a rider, and met her again at a Girl Scout day camp, where he was an archery instructor and she was a camper.

“We were in the same high school youth group at church,” he said.

“I was actually good friends with his sister in high school but I didn’t know his name,” Jan said.

“We knew each other in college. We started talking on Facebook then we started dating right before Jan graduated from UT,” Nic said.

Jan graduated with a degree in therapeutic recreation.

“She enjoys working with kids with autism,” Nic said. “She is a rider and volunteer at STAR for kids and adults with disabilities.”

Meanwhile, Nic served in the U.S. Navy for two years.

After he returned from the military, the two married June 18, 2011.

Jan has been paralyzed since birth.

“I was born with spina bifida, where my spinal cord was exposed,” she said. “My back didn’t fully develop.

“[Jan] walks with braces on her legs, so she can walk; she just walks a little differently than everybody else because she uses different muscles than what we do,” Nic said. So, she can walk the 5k races.

“When you do a 5k, it’s considered running even if you’re walking, crawling, riding, anything. They say it’s running a race,” he added.

“She’s trying to do it faster than she’s ever done before, which is really hard to do. I encourage [her walking in races] because it’s kind of my fault she started doing 5ks anyway because I was doing marathons and half marathons, running 5ks, 8ks and 10ks.

“He started running marathons when he was stationed in Virginia,” Jan said. “I got excited and wanted to try one.”

She started racing in 2015 and has done seven races, Nic said.

“It was just a rush,” Jan added. “I completed it in about an hour-and-a-half. I felt good about it. I felt stronger and like I really accomplished something.”

To help benefit this documentary, contact Nic at nicholascornett9@gmail.com or visit their Kickstarter page, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/890668634/documentary-how-to-make-an-athlete