“The purpose of the Kyle Pease Foundation (KPF) is to create awareness and raise funds to promote success for persons with disabilities by providing assistance to meet their individual needs through sports.” – The Kyle Pease Foundation
Like many athletes in the Atlanta area, I was aware of the work that The Kyle Pease Foundation was doing. But other than contributing to their fundraising efforts, I had never been involved personally. Until earlier in January, when Tina messaged me asking if I would run the Publix Georgia Half Marathon with her. If Naomi, Tina’s daughter didn’t mind going super slow, I was honored and excited to be part of Team Naomi taking on Publix Georgia Half Marathon with The Kyle Pease Foundation.
The Kyle Pease Foundation took 40+ teams to the Publix Georgia Half Marathon this year. I’m sharing my experience from the race weekend with Team Naomi.
Team dinner the night before involved speakers including Brent and Kyle Pease. My favorite speaker at the team dinner was Kevin. I’d met Kevin and his parents earlier at the Charles Harris 10k. His Mark Twain quote, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”, resonated with me especially as I struggle with being a slower runner.
From Helen who managed all the logistics including 300+ emails to the volunteers like Mike, Megan and Jim to pushers who did double duty with other stuff and a lot more people in between who made this event possible. Everyone regardless of their athletic ability was driven by just one goal – to make this the best possible experience for the athletes.
Having watched Brent take care of “only” 6 chairs last weekend at the Charles Harris 10K, I could not comprehend the enormity of 40+! And yet there he was with Kyle – with a smile for everyone and more importantly ASKING every single athlete if they were comfortable and ready. The organization started with Brent and Kyle and observing the two of them, I can understand how it has grown and inspired.
Nervous does not begin to describe it. I was nervous about the nasty hills. Tina was nervous about her first half marathon. And Mr. FauxRunner was nervous about … the man has nerves of steel, so he probably wasn’t nervous at all. But we were all excited to take Naomi on her tour of Atlanta!
Seeing the sea of blue/grey race shirts line up in the dark was enough to give extra chills in the chilly morning.
I have thought of this all 3 times I’ve stood at the start line with a chair. Pushing while running is not easy, but it’s not overly hard either. Because for once, you are not running for yourself. You are running to give your athlete their best experience. Some love to go fast, some don’t care, but all of them are united in their love to run. And that alone makes you run your best.
Oh what can I say about the fun! The race was all about getting from the start to finish and everything else along the way. Much to Mr. FauxRunner’s eye rolls, Tina and I stopped for photos and some videos. I only hope that Tina had some fun too, what with me pestering her to drink and eat.
It was such an awesome day and personally I was feeling so good that there was no cause for tears. Until I got to Mile 11 and saw #TeamLoki with these awesome signs.
The Finish Line
Crossing the finish line is the most amazing feeling, no matter how many times I’ve done it. With it being Tina’s first half marathon finish line, it was celebrations all over.
7 years ago, this was my very first race. In the last 3.5 miles, I was crying in pain and couldn’t walk an inch more after I crossed the finish line. This year it was Tina’s first half marathon. There was not a single word of complaint or whining, not one sigh, not one moan. Just one leg in front of another, just moving forward. Her headband read “I run for those who cannot“. And she did. True grit.
This was my first year being actively involved with The Kyle Pease Foundation, thanks to Tina asking me to run the Publix Georgia Half Marathon with her. It has led me to my three races experiences that I treasure deeply – Heart and Soles 5k with Aiden, Charles Harris 10k with Lizzie and Publix Georgia Half with Team Naomi. I’ve come to know Tina a little and I can’t express how much I admire her; and Naomi is just a complete sweetheart. To have had the opportunity to get to know such an amazing family, I’m deeply thankful to the universe. And to Brent and Kyle for building the foundation that has brought all of us together.
If they do not mind a runner who takes twice as long as everyone else, I hope to continue to offer to help The Kyle Pease Foundation if they need anyone to push or volunteer. Even if it is for the selfish reason that Brent and Kyle make me (and everyone around them) want to be a better person, a person who can make a contribution to bring a smile to someone else.
“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.” – A Tale of Two Cities
If you would still like to support and donate to The Kyle Pease Organization, you can contribute at https://crowdrise.com/team-naomi-at-georgia-publix-half-marathon
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