Despite the near 100 degree temperatures, 150 participants and supporters came together for the Walk, Run, and Roll 5K & 10K, held in Cumming, Georgia. In the sweltering southern heat, I saw race participants push their wheelchairs in a course that was an uphill battle. With each push, I witnessed an ode to determination.
There were first time “rollers”. One participant took a hard fall from his hand cycle, late in the race, and my son assisted him back on his bike. My teenage boy was somewhat nervous, and attempted to make small talk. As he assisted the participant back on his bike, he asked, “How long have you been competing in 5K’s?” Surprised by the man's response, “I’ve only been in my wheelchair for eleven months.” Instantly my son was engaged and was compelled by this man’s bravery. They crossed the finish line together.
“Eleven months, Mom. He was not even paralyzed for a year and he was already competing in a 5K!" my son exclaimed! Both my son and I marveled at this man’s courage. Can you imagine how much fortitude it takes to overcome a new injury alone, and then rally the strength to push your body even further? This roller is my new hero! Humbled by this experience, my son will undoubtedly reflect upon this in the days to come.
I personally was grateful for the opportunity to connect with my fellow wheelchair bound friends. It’s really challenging to put into words the kinship I experience when given the chance to talk with a peer. It is intrinsically rewarding. At the end of the day, I came to understand that the benefits of this event, both mental and physical, surpassed my expectations! Runners and rollers captured any doubts and leveraged their fears to inspire forward motion. We could all take a cue from the participants of this 5k.
My take away - Be strong, be present and steadfast!