I first noticed these 3 women at the stage 2 finish line when one of them came across the finish and broke down in tears, another running up to hug her. This is not an uncommon sight here at the GORE-TEX TransRockies Run, yet something about these women caught my eye. Meet Cheryl, Jen and Michelle, Team Joshua, three moms, friends, and fellow runners from Vancouver, BC. It was Jen’s suggestion that got them here to the TransRockies Run. She told the others it would be fun and an amazing adventure! Apparently, that’s all it took and all three signed up for the Run3 event, the solo 3-day stage race.
The one in tears was Michelle and I was intrigued by the friendship and love I saw between these ladies at the finish line. When I was able to catch up with Michelle at dinner, she told me her story and that she almost didn’t make it here to the TransRockies Run. You see, Michelle is not only a mother, she is the mother of an 11 year old who was born with a genetic disorder. Her son, Joshua, is cognitively intact, smart and funny. He loves sports and people. He can’t control his muscles and he can’t speak but communicates through sign language and word approximation.
Michelle herself started running, for sanity she says, in 2006. After seeing Joshua crying because he couldn’t play sports himself, she took him out running with her and he loved it so much that this became a regular occurrence. They ran a ½ marathon with Michelle pushing him in a special jogging stroller while he wore a running bib with his name on it. He was so proud of being in this event and loved all the attention so much that the next day he wore his medal and race t-shirt to school. The pair gained lots of fans and support during the race from runners and spectators alike, as well as the media with whom Michelle was able to talk about issues families with disabled children face. With this, she realized that these families need a voice, an advocate, and that she and Joshua were able to help bring some much-needed attention to the plight of families such as theirs. Joshua has since been the torch bearer for the 2010 Paralympic Torch Relay and the medal bearer for the Rick Hansen Wheels in Motion Tour.
Michelle and Joshua’s dream is to qualify for and run the Boston marathon one day in order to raise more awareness of families in similar situations. However, in order to do this, they’ll need a special racing wheelchair. The cost of that alone is estimated at approximately $8,000-10,000, not pocket change. Then, of course, they’ll have travel expenses on top of that. Michelle also hopes to create a charitable foundation that supports other families, providing resources, training and coaching. Michelle is here running the TransRockies Run with her girlfriends as a much-needed, rare getaway. Funny, she says, to fly to Colorado to run 60 miles over the Rockies just to clear your head. Think Big. Start Small. TeamJoshua.ca