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Runners making it posible for disabled people to compete in marathons

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 19:15:59-04

JENKS -- A group of runners in Tulsa is making running in a marathon possible for people who otherwise could not. 

They are a group called Ainsley's Angels. There are 60 chapters in 30 states right now. Tulsa's started in December of 2017. 

Runners push adults and children with a wide range of disabilities in running strollers in marathons. They have riders with developmental disabilities, ALS, and people recovering from strokes. 

'When I'm running I get to feel what everybody else feels even if it’s just for a few minutes," Sean Lewis said. 

Lewis has cerebral palsy and is in an electric wheelchair, which he said can only go so fast.  

The group was started after a girl named Ainsley was diagnosed with a disease that completely paralyzed her. Her father started running with her in a running stroller and she loved it. Ainsley passed away two years ago at the age of 14-years old but her legacy lives on. 

The group competes in a marathon or 5K every month. Their running strollers are adorned with the name of the person or company who donated it and they have a flag with the "athlete rider's" name. 

"A lot of them are encouraging us," Jana Rugg, the coordinator for Ainsley's Angels in Tulsa, said. "They want to go faster. Keep pushing. Some of them are just giggling."

The runners take turns pushing the strollers during the course. 

"It’s all about inclusion," Lewis said. "It’s all about finding a different way to participate in the things you want to do."

Thursday, the group went to the Bridges Foundation in Jenks where they pushed the kids around to show them what it was like. 

"People who run... we get a lot from it," Rugg said. "We just enjoy that time with our feet on the pavement."

They want to provide that same experience for people like Lewis who have never had it. 

Lewis wore all of his medals to the Bridges Thursday. He had at least five hanging around his neck. 

Although he is not the one doing the running, he knows his job is to encourage the person who is when they get tired and he loves it.

"Every time I get in the chair I just love it, because I get to feel the wind in my face and I know what it’s like to go super fast," Lewis said. 

Rugg said they are looking for more angel runners, athlete riders and people to support their organization in other ways. Participating is completely free, but they are always looking for donations. Click here for more information. 


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