Ainslie’s Angels, a non-profit organization, coordinates 19 teams of experienced runners who push disabled participants in special wheelchairs dubbed “chariots”.
HOUSTON. The Chevron Houston Marathon is taking place this Sunday. Approximately 27,000 participants are expected, including 113 disabled athletes and their attendants.
This year, non-profit organization Ainsley’s Angels is coordinating 19 teams of experienced runners to push participants with disabilities in special wheelchairs dubbed chariots.
Kaylie Davidson, 16, is ready to run the Chevron Houston Marathon, her first marathon.
“She loves the wind on her face. She loves movement and movement,” said her mum Heather Davidson.
Heather was devastated when her child was diagnosed with a developmental brain disorder.
“Doctors told me that she would most likely never walk, never talk,” she said. “I have always been a sports person. I served in the military and you dream of one day coaching your child in softball.”
Today Kaylie can walk and needs a helper. So how could she take part in the marathon? The non-profit organization Ainsley’s Angels connects disabled participants with runners and provides the team with special three-wheeled chariots for racing.
Landy Orza pushes chariots about once a month.
“It just speaks to something bigger than you, which is unusual,” Orza said. “When it comes to running, it’s usually a very kind of selfish sport.”
Lundy, a bakery owner by profession, has been in business for 20 years.
“My favorite thing is when kids can let them get off the chariot and cross the finish line on their own.”
But since Kaylee isn’t talking, how do people know if she enjoys being a wheelchair user?
“In fact, she will rock back and forth in her chariot as her signal or message, telling you, “Move faster! Hurry up!” her mother explained.
We were witnesses to this firsthand. Kaylee, who had been silent until then, started making noises as soon as she rolled. When the chariot stopped, it began to sway vigorously. Her mom said that Caylee has sensory issues and movement calms her.
It turns out that Kaylee has run dozens of races from 10Ks to half marathons. She has a rack of racing medals in her bedroom.
For her mom, Kaylie’s biggest accomplishment is that she inspires others.
“What she teaches about love, compassion and understanding,” Heather said, “She really achieves a purpose in life.”
This lesson is not about the race, but about the journey.