Lanie Warner, 23, is so not a morning person.

You'd never know that by the smile on her face as she crossed the finish line of the sixth annual Zydeco Marathon.

"I woke up at 4:30, and we lost an hour of sleep," Warner said with a sarcastic smirk. "But it's awesome. I love it."

Although she crossed the finish line and received a medal, Warner technically didn't run Sunday's race.

She was one of seven people who rode in a special racing chair pushed by an athlete, or "angel runner." It was possible because of Ainsley's Angels, a nonprofit that enables people with disabilities to participate in endurance events like marathons.

"It's to allow these individuals to get off of the sidelines and across the finish lines," said Kristine Seaward, co-founder of the organization. "It's about educating people. Just because you have a different means of transportation other than your two legs, (it) doesn't mean you're not still able to race."

Warner, from Sulphur, has spina bifida, a birth defect that affects the development of the spine and spinal cord. She's had 21 surgeries in her 23 years.

Her mom, Tara, said her daughter has had the opportunity to travel, make friends and experience new things through Ainsley's Angels.

"Kids with disabilities don't always have the chance to do things like this," Tara Warner said. "The kids truly enjoy it."

Warner dresses up as a different fictional character with her teammate for every race.

Sunday, she was dressed as Jessie from "Toy Story," and her teammate, Chris Little of Baton Rouge, was dressed as Buzz Lightyear from the same Disney franchise.

The Zydeco Marathon was the team's 15th race together.

"I do it for the smile on her face," Little said. "And her sass. The sass keeps me going too."

Warner has participated in more than 100 races she since was 16.

The most memorable one so far has been the Ragnar, a 36-hour relay race that covers 200 miles around Washington, D.C.

Although Warner wasn't initially sold on the idea of waking up early to participate in endurance events, it didn't take too long for her to see the benefit of rising before the sun.

"I'm technically not a morning person," Warner said with her signature smirk. "But when I found out I could run with hot guys, I was like 'Oh, yeah.'"


Follow Megan Wyatt on Twitter, @MeganWyattACA.