I know a lot of you know us in real life. And if you know Elise in real life, you know she will abruptly run off and get into trouble. She is faster than a striking snake if she decides she should leave, and is classified as "a runner", when we leave her in someone else's care: school, church, babysitters, etc.
But for all her running, she is barely willing to walk any where. She will not run on the road or any kind of path, unless she is not supposed to. Her only voluntary forms of exercising are swimming and jumping on the trampoline, and sometimes I wonder that if she knew that was exercising, if she'd be against those, too.
She complains that her feet hurt, and her hips and back and hair...and I truly believe that her joints hurt her...her body moves very awkwardly and is exceedingly prone to injury.
I run as an outlet for joy and stress release. I laugh that it is the single thing in my life that has a clear start and a clear finish. I am not super competitive, but I do love it. I dabble in 5Ks, I ran a couple of half marathons last year, I have a triathlon coming up soon, and I am shopping 10Ks and 15Ks for this winter.
Recently, a running friend, posted up on her page on Facebook about an interesting running group. It is called "I Run for Michael". (https://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/irunformichael/206359252853955/?notif_t=group_activity)
This is the group description:
"God gave me the gift of mobility. Others aren't as fortunate so I Run for Michael, who do YOU run for?
This is a community forum for inspiration from those who have special needs and for you to inspire others with YOUR story and who YOU run for!
A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture for inspiration for my first official 5K run and one of my facebook friends commented on it. His comment was simple yet profound. He said "you can run for me anytime!"
You see my friend was diagnosed with bilateral hip dysplasia. He was told he would never walk again. He found a doctor who was willing to perform a risky and experimental surgery over a period of two years. He spent a year in a body cast and underwent 17 months of gruelling physical therapy five days a week. He DID walk again. The miraculous results were expected to last two to three years. He recovered enough and so strongly he competed in the Olympics... The Special Olympics. You see, my friend Michael Wasserman has Down Syndrome. This "Old Champ" (as his mother, Mary, calls him) stretched out this miracle 24 years and 24 days. He is now in a wheelchair and can no longer run. But that's not the end of the story... he has been inspiring me for several months with his artwork which he sells in facebook auctions and donates 100% of the proceeds to charity. Last year alone he raised $2500! So I RUN FOR MICHAEL! "
I observed this group for over a week before I signed Elise up to be paired with a buddy and myself as a runner.
I was struck at how much it meant to the runners see the gift the sheer ability to run actually is. I was floored at how seriously they took their mission to include someone else in their runs. I was touched at how involved the runners became in their buddies' disabilities and how interested they became in their lives. I was desperately pleased at how perfectly matched the running community is with the special needs community. They are both steeped in courage, perseverance, and support. As a whole, both very quickly reach out to invite "newbies" in and encourage each other to be their best despite pain and difficulty.
Elise was paired up to a runner in under an hour. I was not disappointed. Her buddy has already run for her several times, posted pictures, read a chunk of this blog in an attempt to get to know more about her, and genuinely reached out to us.
I hope that if you have a child with disabilities, that you will get them a buddy. It is wonderful to know that there is someone that is not tied to you or your child's disabilities, that really WANTS to educate themselves and WANTS to get to know them. The awareness of the non-typical community in a match up like this has amazing possibilities and potential for truly great positive impact on world views.
I hope that if you are a runner, that you reach out and learn more about disabilities you do not have to fight with daily. I hope that you will feel afresh, that running is truly a gift, and not just a hot mess that you sign on to for physical fitness. I hope that you will find a friend and a blessing in the pairing, a true awareness of the PEOPLE behind the disabilities.
I hope that this pairing offers a new perspective for Elise's Buddy. I hope that Elise will remember the encouragement of her buddy, and that perhaps in time, she finds some inspiration to run voluntarily, too!