Friday, July 5, 2013

Who do you run for?

I am not sure how I heard of a group called "I Run for Michael" but as soon as I found them, I was in love!

This group pairs runners (and exercisers...) with special needs kids. The runners run in the child's honor. Dedicating their runs to the child, learning more about them and their special needs and posting pictures and notes to their parent.

It. Is. Awesome.

A lot of people have heard of the term "I run for those who can't". Runners who realize that the ability to run is a gift. After all, not everyone can do it, not only is their the typical special needs community like my Dylan but you also have adults with crippling illnesses that prevent them from running and doing things they want to do. Often runners keep them in mind to inspire them to do more, run further, run faster. Those who can't hold you up, and those who can hold up those who can't.

Last year a man named Tim posted on FaceBook that he needs to run for those who can't and an adult man with Down Syndrome who he had friended a while back because of his art said "You can run for me any time!"Meet Michael. And this was the spark that lit a little movement in the running community. A wild fire.

When I joined there were members of around 600, that was a week ago and now the group is pushing 1200!

The group is full of inspirational messages to children, there are pictures of bibs with names on them... personalized "I run for..." t-shirts. The messages get more specific to the children as the friendship goes on, runners congratulating children on recent developments, telling them they saw flowers that were their favorite colors, letting them know that there were many prayers said for them on their morning run.

Members of the special needs community are understandably cautious. As such, there are runners, a lot of them, waiting to be paired with a special needs child. Hopefully parents will see the value of this closed, private group and it will continue to grow. The potential to spread awareness and foster unity is outstanding.

When I joined I joined as a parent and as a runner. Dylan's runner is a great woman named Heather whose adventures make her a bit of an inspiration herself.

I run for Jack, who do you run for?

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