Michael, the 17-year old son of Jim Sayih, has Cerebral Palsy. Jim included Michael in 5K’s since he was 8 years old, either by pushing him or pulling him on a bike. Michael wanted others with disabilities to experience the joy that he feels through these activities, and asked his dad if they can raise funds for United Cerebral Palsy through a 5k where runners can push other riders.
This request turned into 250 runners and walkers of all abilities participating in the 5k. I consider this a success given it was a first year event, a new concept, and competing against the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Awareness Walk happening that same morning.
Before the start of the race the event organizers asked the competitive runners to think of this as an event rather than a regular race. The 3 individuals in hand crank wheelchairs were given a head start. This was only to ease the traffic between the chairs and the runners – certainly not because they needed the extra help. These athletes were fast! The winner of the Hand Crank division finished the 3.12 miles in 20 minutes and 40 seconds. The other two weren’t far behind.
I am counting my blessings after witnessing the adults and children, confined to chairs, enjoying the sunrise as they were pushed along the boardwalk. I was moved to see the young boy who pushed so hard to walk on his own. Each step was a struggle, but he was determined. I couldn’t help but remember how often I take my ability to walk for granted.
Seeing Michael’s face as he was pushed through the finish line at his “party” was another emotional moment. Jim and Michael should be so proud of what they accomplished yesterday. I hope to see the event grow in a 2nd year!