Recently a friend and colleague told me about the I Run 4 Michael program. Basically, if you like to run (ride, swim, etc) the iRun4 group will match you with a buddy with special needs, of any age, who can’t (or doesn’t yet) run. The runner and match exchange pictures via a closed Facebook group supporting one another. The special need doesn’t matter – DS, cerebral palsy, Trisomy 18 – you name it. It’s all about encouraging one another.
Founder Tim Boyle started I Run 4 Michael to honor his good friend, a man with DS who developed painful hip dysplasia. Tim dedicates his run’s to Michael and Michael cheers him on with pictures, artwork, and most recently – an engraved dog tag for him to wear.
I signed up several weeks ago and am still waiting for a match. The organization is run by volunteers so I’m patiently waiting (also trying to contain my excitement). While posting my pre-match runs online I became aware of several other bloggers in the DS community whose children are matched. The DS awareness message is strong!
What I love about this organization is its message. People have different abilities, but we are all human. Runner-match stories are interwoven in very real ways. This isn’t a place that elevates individuals with special needs to a place of otherness. It’s a place that promotes understanding and encouragement.
Life is short.
Run with a friend cheering you on.
PS There are more runners than matches. This is my unsolicited ask for families active on Facebook to sign up.