By Ashleigh Justice
Sunday, February 17
Today, I flew with Angels. Not the kind of angels with halos or harps, but the kind that remove barriers and make you feel like you can take on the world. Today, I was a Captain of a myTEAM TRIUMPH team. I got to feel speed and the wind in my face, the cheers from passerbys. Only a handful of times in my life have I been able to leave my wheelchair behind and feel like I wasn’t stuck without it. For those who can walk, riding in a racing chair probably doesn’t carry the same impact but for those who are “trapped in a broken body” that racing chair becomes wings. “When I was in that chair, I felt like my disability disappeared,” said Rick Hoyt after his father pushed him through their first race. Mr. Hoyt, no one could have said it better!
myTEAM TRIUMPH became a part of my life in November of 2011 when Kris Skogen, my boss and CEO of AdvisaCare, asked me to help start the Phoenix chapter. He had seen the kind of impact the organization was already having in Michigan and wanted to help the organization expand to other parts of the States. Little did I realized that this assignment or the individuals I would meet would become such a special pert of my life.
The run was the final event of the first National Conference of myTEAM TRIUMPH in Phoenix, Arizona. We ran alongside Tempe Town Lake, an entourage of red and white among the crowd. It was during the conference that I realized that what we are doing is more than helping people with disabilities cross the finish line, we were giving them the experience of accomplishment, of having fun, and of genuinely mattering to the team. For me, a person with a disability, being able to forget about my paralysis for even just one race is more than a break from reality, its a flight with angels
I was joined by Connor, another Captain who had already been in two races with our chapter. Captain Connor has cerebral palsy and is non-verbal and blind and doesn’t communicate much but when we arrived at our landing spot, he had a smile that could not be denied. His mom asked him, “Connor, did you have fun?” Connor rocked and smiled and made excited noises. “Want to go again?” And with another smile, he and his Angel were off again.
It’s incredible experiences like these that mark every race we run in. It doesn’t matter the challenge, you see the beauty of humanity and feel that higher power that moves us all. To everyone involved, it’s more than just a race, it’s triumph!
The mission of myTEAM triumph is to provide the ultimate racing experience for individuals with disabilities. To get involved, check out their website. You can find various chapters on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
myTEAM TRIUMPH is proudly sponsored by AdvisaCare
Tucson, AZ (September 15, 2011) –myTEAM TRIUMPH, a national organization inspired by TEAM HOYT that enables… children, teens, adults and veterans with disabilities to ride along in athletic events, has approved a southern Arizona chapter, according to Steve King, the president of myTEAM TRIUMPH-Southern Arizona.
The Southern Arizona chapter will have its inaugural run Sept. 17 as part of the Diamond Ventures El Tour 10K/5K Adventure Run & Walk Along the Rillito River. This national designation enables the chapter to borrow ADA approved wheelchairs. King said the chapter has the ADA chairs for 10 “Captains” on loan from the national chapter for the race on Sept. 17. Each captain has three “Angels”, runners who volunteer to push the chairs in the race.
The captains range in age from three to 23 years old, King said.
The organization’s goal is to encourage other families with disabled athletes and hope to raise money for the purchase of at least ten ADA approved running wheelchairs, he said. The cost of each chair ranges from $850 to $1250, depending on the weight of the rider.
“The need is great. There are at least 100 children in my son’s school who could “Captain” a team if we had the chairs. We have many runners who want to serve as our Angels but we need the chairs,” he said.
To donate to or to find out more about My Team Triumph- Southern Arizona, go to www.mtt-southernarizona.org