This week was the culmination of one special boy running in a fun run. I work with my special friend who has cerebral palsy and gets around in an electric wheel chair. He dictates his math strategies to me and I walk with him in his gate trainer, a large walker type contraption.
We’ve shared a lot of laughs as I talk like Elmer Fudd instructing him to us his right leg, left leg (wight, weft). Sometimes, he kicks me when I walk backwards, facing him. I often jokingly say, “Hey! Do I look like a soccer ball?!” which only encourages him to try and kick me more.
Our school just participated in a Boosterthon Fun Run where the kids had to get pledges for each lap they ran. It’s an awesome program and it certainly motivated my special friend to get pledges and be determined he was going to run five laps in his gate trainer.
He and I were so thrilled when his grade level was scheduled to run at my designated time of day with him. I wish I could’ve taken pictures and shared them with you but, of course, I cannot do that in a school setting. So I will try to paint a picture with words.
The lap course was set-up outside in the grass, so he couldn’t move too fast in his gate trainer but his exuberance was there, none-the-less. As other classmates ran around and around the course, my little friend kept plodding along. He stopped a couple times to rest his body, we gave him drinks of water, and he wanted us to pore the water on his head like the other kids were doing. When he looked weary, I’d hop in front of him and talk like Elmer Fudd which brought smiles to his face. And he’d try to kick me like a soccer ball. As kids ran by, they’d cheer him on and teachers/staff cheered from the sidelines.
His goal was to run five laps while the other kids could run 30+ laps. His therapist said for every lap he runs, he would expend an equivalent to four of the other kids’ laps. And that’s exactly what he did. He met his goal of five laps and we cheered, clapped, and praised our special friend.
As we helped him into his electric wheel chair, and I pushed the gate trainer back into the building, a lump began to form in my throat and mist in my eyes. I thanked God for choosing me at that time of day to walk with a special boy, cheer him on, make him laugh, and accomplish his goal.
I’ve learned from my special friend the following ways to train for a fun run:
1. Train with a friend.
2. Don’t be discouraged by other’s successes around you.
3. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
4. Have fun!