I had started on a different post for today – I wanted to do a recap of the first half of the year. Then, I started reading the news and I stumbled upon this article:
Basically, there are two young boys, Nolan and Jack, who have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. They have been participating in some local events as part of Team Two Smiles, with assistance from several athletes, and they were going to participate in the 4th of July race in “joggers.” They requested permission from the race and the Syracuse Chargers Track Club board responded:
“Having those conveyances simultaneously present with runners on a road race course during a race adds a variety of safety hazards for participating runners, as well as for the passengers and pushers of those conveyances.”
(To provide some context, the race is held at 8:45am on 4th of July morning in Cazenovia, New York – population 7,000)
This is wrong for so many reasons. Having these boys on the course doesn’t cause any additional safety issues. A very minor accomodation, such as an early start, would easily prevent any “traffic” issues. There is nothing preventing the boys from doing the course today or tomorrow – so the message is clear – you can participate, just not with everyone else on Fourth of July.
These are just kids. They could be my kids or your kids. They could be our sisters or brothers or friends. They are probably going to have more challenges in their lives than the rest of us, and sadly, they most likely will not be with us for as long. If they want to participate, with reasonable precautions, they should be able to participate.
This is reminiscent of the early 1980s when the NYC Marathon fought tooth and nail to prevent wheelchair participants (in fact, the NYC Marathon did not have an official wheelchair division until 2000).
Aside from the blatant discrimination, it strikes me as odd when some of the greatest athletes of our time are people with disabilties.
Obviously, I have to mention Team Hoyt. They have inspired millions and may be the single most positive symbol of the Boston Marathon.
I am registered for this race. I was looking forward to this race. Now, I’m honestly not sure what to do.
Run the race and pretend nothing happened? Unlikely.
Run the race and make a donation to Two Smiles One Hope Foundation?
Not run the race?
I don’t know. In the meantime, I’ve contacted the board of directors who made this decision and I’m hoping they will change their minds before Friday morning.