Thursday, July 25, 2013

Blazing the Trail

I hope everybody is having a great summer and enjoying the weather that has been bestowed upon us. A lot of exciting stuff is happening right now with the Kyle Pease Foundation as we continue to grow as an organization and spread the message of inclusion. The highlight of the summer and one of the best moments of my life (so far) happened on July 4th when Brent and I combined to become the first assisted team to ever compete in the Peachtree Road Race.

Makes us look fast :)

The Peachtree Road Race is a tradition in Atlanta every Independence Day and is the largest 10k in the country. It was incredible to be out there with 60,000 runners and 61 wheelchair participants. We blazed the trail though as the only assisted team to participate in the race. The race, which began in 1970, has never had a team like Brent and me, and we can only hope that this is the start of something big.

The weather was a bit rainy as we took off by ourselves shortly after the wheelchair athletes and before the sea of 60,000 runners. The reaction of the fans and the people of Atlanta were amazing throughout the entire 6.2 mile course. There were times that I was so into the cheers of the crowd that I felt like I was dreaming.  

I am proud of what the Kyle Pease Foundation does but never imagined that we would re-write history. By competing in this race we suddenly became recognized in the same circle as Dick and Rick Hoyt. I’ve said this since the day we started running, that I have nothing but respect for what the Hoyts do. They are the trailblazers and paved the way for us. They are the leaders and always will be the leaders and inspire me to be more, but to be mentioned in the same breath as them is really an honor to Brent and me. Running in the Peachtree was really a surreal moment to be recognized as local heroes by the people of Atlanta. It was just phenomenal. My dream is that next year and for many years to follow there will be more and more Kpeasey athletes competing in this race which is such a part of our city.

So many people have come up to me since and told me what an inspiration we are. I had no idea that it was going to be so awesome. Even as I write this, I’ll be honest, I get goose bumps. It helped the Pease Brothers reach a new level and kind of get over the top. Many of our friends know that we will be competing in the Iron Man in Wisconsin this September but hopefully with the exposure that we got racing in the Peachtree there will be many more fans keeping an eye on the results as we compete in our first 140.6 at the end of the summer.
Being congratulated by race organizers just past the line

I really want to thank the Shepherd Center and the Atlanta track club for the opportunity granted to Brent and I to participate in this historic day. Following our historic achievement we were invited to appear on Good Day Atlanta to be interviewed live in studio. That was an incredible feeling as well to see our faces broadcast all over Atlanta but was still pale in comparison to crossing the finish line with Brent behind me and the sounds of thousands of screaming fans filling the air.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

All together now

The stage was perfect...well almost.  A rainy sky had us a little nervous as we unloaded the car early on the 4th of July.  When we were 7 & 9 years old, I remember standing in Piedmont Park watching the wheelchairs come flying down the hill...years later I never thought we would be there together.  But here we were at the start line of our first Peachtree.  Rain or shine we were running!


Off to the races!
 We've done a lot of racing since we started down this path, but this one ranks pretty high up.  60,000 individuals run this race every year and here we were charging down Peachtree.  Even the rain couldn't damper the crowds spirits and we certainly got a lot of encouragement along the way...especially up Cardiac Hill right past Shepherd Spinal Center, the wheelchair race organizers, who played such a big role in our entry this year!

Finishing up the last of the hills!
It's hard to describe how special it is to allow so many others to see the thrill of accomplishment but I know that as we work for more assisted runners next year the effort will have all been worth it.  Even charging down 10th street to the finish of our first Peachtree together, I did not fully appreciate how big the moment was.  As we stood talking with race organizers, reporters, family & friends, we realized that it was truly a special day and one we will not soon forget.  I know that you can expect to see us every year out there, celebrating the 4th, laughing and crossing that finish line for so long as we can!

Pretending we are famous (THANKS TACOMA)
Of course a special thanks to Shepherd Spinal Center,  & The Atlanta Track Club, for making this day possible.  We look forward to the continued hard work to help grow the assisted athlete category in The Peachtree.  Thanks as well to Fox 5 ATL, for sharing our story  and letting others see just how special this can be. 
Thank you all for sharing in our journey! Together We Wheel!