Local athletes particpate as I Run for Michael runners
Wed, 03/02/2016 - 11:13am admin
New Underwood Post
When two Owanka runners lace up their running shoes, they are running for something more than health or fun.
Both Kayla Wulf and Tina Scott have decided to use their running to bless someone else by taking part in I Run for Michael, a program that pairs runners with children who have special needs, are disabled, or who have been placed on an individualized education program to help with learning disabilities.
The idea for I Run for Michael was first conceived by a runner named Tim Boyle, who was challenged by the perspective that many people who would like to run are unable to do this activity that Boyle had taken for granted.
Through social media, Boyle was contacted by a man named Michael who has down syndrome. Michael told Boyle that he could run in Michael’s place, since Michael was unable to run himself. A new venue for sharing love and support was born. The program has grown to include not only runners, but walkers and other athletes who wish to support people who cannot partake of the physical exercise they themselves are able to enjoy.
Athletes who participate in the I Run for Michael program do not run to earn money for their “buddies,” but rather as a show of emotional support. The program opens the opportunity for runners and buddies from around the world to share their lives with each other.
Wulf’s buddy, a 14-year-old girl named Olivia, lives in Kentucky. She was recently diagnosed with eosinophilic esophagitis, which is the inflaming and hardening of the esophagus, making swallowing food and keeping food down nearly impossible. Through social media, Wulf is able to have daily contact with Olivia and build a relationship with her.
Wulf’s children, Maddie, a third grader, and Kingston, a second grader, do not wholly grasp what the I Run For Michael program does, but they have gamely joined in runs dedicated to Olivia, Wulf said.
“It will be cool as they get older and understand what we are doing,” said Wulf.
Scott’s buddy, a six-year-old girl named Brooke from London, England, was diagnosed with neurogenic arthrogryposis and hip dysplasia at birth. This means that her joints are abnormally curved in two or more joints in her body, and that her hips are affected. She is being raised by a single mother in London.
Scott, who has two daughters of her own in their early years of elementary school, has been able to bond not only with Brooke, but also with her mother. Despite being seven hours and an ocean apart, Scott and Brooke’s mother are able to share pictures, stories and runs through social media.
Although Brooke is not able to speak, she enjoys the pictures Scott sends her. Through pictures and videos, Scott has been able to teach her oldest daughter, Alyssa, a second grader, about the blessing of health as well as the need to care for those who are not blessed with health.
In addition to pairing athletes with buddies, the I Run for Michael program also has a branch that pairs athletes with families who have lost a child due to a disability, and another branch in which the “buddies” are the siblings of the children with disabilities. More information about becoming a participant in any facet of this program can be found at www.whoirun4.com.