WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — A 12-year-old Junior Olympian and internet sensation has connections to Wichita Falls.
Jaiya Patillo has recently gathered a lot of attention after a video of her running on a treadmill at 17 miles per hour attracted millions of views on the social media platform, TikTok.
Even though her internet fame is recent, family members said Jaiya’s gift of speed was something she had since birth.
“I happened to be laying down one day on the sofa sideways. And I saw her legs doing this and she was striding,” Kevin Patillo, Jaiya’s father, said. “Even when she got to the wall she put her feet out to brace the impact to the wall. I said, ‘She has the connection between the mind, the brain and the body. She has that natural connection.'”
That natural connection made Jaiya begin track at just 7-years-old where she has earned countless medals and is now a nine-time, nationally-ranked Junior Olympian.
“I just always have loved to just run. I never would’ve thought about track but did like to run,” Jaiya said.
ESPN shared a video of her running on a treadmill at 17 miles an hour, which is now sitting at more than 60 million views.
And in a few months, Jaiya will be training in Wichita Falls for the AAU Junior Olympics in Houston.
“There’s something about Wichita Falls. It is a very rich city in Spirit. When you’re there, you can feel the peace and the Spirit moving in Wichita Falls like no other city in Texas,” Kevin said.
While the Patillo’s currently live in Ohio, they have deep “connections to Wichita Falls,” Jaiya’s father was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base when he met James Hicks.
Hicks and Patillo began a friendship that would lead to the founding of the Faith Jurisdiction of Churches where Hicks is the pastor of one of five locally owned churches.
“He is our apostle also and he’s one of the chief officers of our jurisdiction,” Bishop James Hicks, Covenant Faith Center pastor, said. “She’s a part of Wichita Falls so she’s ours… She’s down here, she’s an amazing little girl and you’re going to see her in the Olympics running.”
Making the 2024 Olympics is the goal for Jaiya, and she said she hopes to recite the Bible verse Philippians 4:13 on that track as she does before every race.
“It feels really great and I appreciate all the support and it also just makes me want to encourage others to know that they can do what they want to do and they can achieve their goals too,” Jaiya said.
Achieving goals and inspiring others as Jaiya continues on her journey to be the best on and off the track.
Jaiya’s father also said he owns land in Kamay and hopes to break ground on building a retirement home soon.