I really don't have words to describe today.
Our day started really early - like 4:30AM early! But I would do it a million times over. Today Alex participated in the Richmond Marathons' 8K thanks to an amazing group called Inclusive Racing.
Alex had a bib and timing chip and was just like the other 20,000 people that were registered!
Let me back up! A few weeks ago we received a phone call and we were asked if we would like Alex to participate in an 8K race with a group called Inclusive Racing. I had never heard of Inclusive Racing but the more I heard about it, the more I knew I wanted us to be a part of it.
Here is their Mission:
Inclusive Racing is a non-profit organization with a mission to enable individuals with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities to experience the exhilaration of being athletes in a running race by providing them an adaptive stroller and a team of runners to support them. Through the race experience and the donation of the adaptive stroller to the athlete's family, it is our hope that the athletes and their families will lead more active and mobile lifestyles. It is also the goal of Inclusive Racing to increase awareness in our community about the challenges this population faces and increase acceptance and inclusion in society.
How amazing is that? Not only do they DONATE the running chair but they afford kids like Alex the opportunity to do something she would never, ever be able to do! Last week Bryan, the President of Inclusive Racing, Jeannine and Matt came to give Alex her new stroller and test it out.
Audretta, Me, Matt, Bryan and Jeannine
Bryan even took Alex for a test run!
Here she is today in her new stroller, along with a nice, new warm fleece blanket donated by a local girl scout troop!
Alex with Aaron and Zach
Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side this morning and it was raining the whole time we were getting her straight in her chair.
Zach took this picture of me and Aaron while we were waiting in the car trying to stay dry....it's the only dry picture we have :)
A little sleepy, but we are ready for a great run!
There was a meeting a few weeks ago to learn more about race day and discuss logistics and when we walked in, unknown to us, there were quite a few of Alex's friends participating too. Some were running the 8K and some the half marathon.
Two of my special, pretty awesome mom friends! Helen and Cat - and Helen's daughter Kara.
Ms. Kara - who is also the up and coming 2014 Little Ms. Wheelchair Virginia!
Here's the best part of our day!
Meet Nate, Josh, Billy, Jeff and Kyle!
These five amazing guys are baseball players from Hampden Sydney and they were Alex's running partners.
These guys touched my heart today in a way they will never know. They sacrificed their time and energy to give Alex the experience of a lifetime and they were the most kind, polite, well mannered men.
After our meet and greet and getting Alex settled it was time to head to the starting line.
Once we got to the starting line it was pouring!! Everyone was soaked! Luckily Alex had a hood on her stroller to help block some of the rain.
Alex was in the first wave to start - so we said our very soggy good byes, left her with her new friends and went to the sidelines to watch them take off.
Zach was such a trooper standing in the rain! You can see the side of Aaron's jacket in the corner of the picture and just how soaked his weather proof jacket is :)
And they are off!!!
Once they were off we headed down to the finish line. Here's a partial view of the city covered with fog.
Helen and Cat waiting at the finish line - Go Team Kara!
A soaked selfie of Zach and I waiting at the finish line!
Here they come!
Smiling, clapping - these guys are too great :)
5.2 miles pushing 68 pounds of Alex plus the chair in 44.15 minutes. GO TEAM ALEX!!
Here is a video of them crossing - if you listen past my yelling, you can hear them announcing her name once she crossed!
My first picture of Alex and her first race medal!!
And the amazing team that got her across that finish line!!
Here's Alex looking at her new friend Kyle :)
Alex loved the race experience - the rain couldn't damper anything - I don't think there was anything that could have made our experience any better than it was.
I think she's thinking about whether or not she liked the race experience....
And the answer was clear!
"Our" first running medal - we plan on adding a lot more to her collection!
We have to give a huge, huge thank you to Bryan, Laura, Jeannine and Matt with Inclusive Racing. You are making such a huge difference with what you do. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of Inclusive Racing and giving Alex the opportunity to do something so incredible.
If you are in Richmond and you like to run, consider signing up to be a runner with Inclusive Racing - they do several races a year and always need volunteers. If you're not a runner, please consider making a donation - everything from the stroller to the entry fees is covered for the athletes - all they have to do is show up. Consider donating so that more kids like Alex can participate in such great events. Please click here to go to facebook and like their page!
Our day would not have been what it was without Jeff, Kyle, Nate, Josh and Billy. You guys are exceptional individuals and you filled my heart with so much pride and gratitude. I have had a smile on my face all day because of you and cannot thank you enough. There are days with Alex that are not easy, but today you gave us such a gift. You gave us a memory that will last a lifetime and I hope you will all stay in touch with us and that we can run future races together as Team Alex!