Pate has a lot of runners on our traumatic brain injury rehab team and they love a challenge. This year they took on a big one by fielding a relay team for the 13.1 mile Dallas half marathon. They turned it into a wheelchair push marathon by taking one of our long term residents, Joe, all the way in his wheelchair.
Joe is a former runner himself who experienced a brain injury that now makes walking difficult. He loved the idea of once more joining a race and being a teammate.
Pate’s Nathan did a lot of work to prep for the wheelchair push marathon race behind the scenes, getting Joe ready, packing supplies and driving him from the McKinney area residence to downtown Dallas by start time.
Then Pate’s Christine, Paige, Karina, Cindy, Jennifer and Jennifer’s most excellent husband set off at the gun and then relay-pushed Joe, passing dozens of people. (And they kept doing it!)
Other participants were rolling in wheelchairs and as Joe passed, he gave them encouragement with a cowbell and lots of thumbs ups on the way.
Joe was happily people watching and checking out the scenery throughout the race as it wound through Dallas neighborhoods from downtown to Oaklawn to Highland Park to East Dallas and back downtown to cheers and waves.
Now pushing a wheelchair demands some strength…and as the team tired, they handed off to another teammate. Just like rehab, the race depended on lots of people working together.
After a little over 3 hours, the little band headed into the home stretch. As they approached the finish line, they were all thinking the same thing. Could Joe walk over the line himself?
Only one way to find out. So the team pulled over and helped Joe to his feet. The crowd went crazy. The marathon announcer was yelling encouragement and even came down from his perch to watch and do a little play-by-play.
And then Joe took his steps making his way to victory. He walked over that finish line to cheering so loud it seemed to bounce off the buildings. Joe’s walk on his own feet inspired every person on his team – and every person watching.
Here’s that last moment:
Thanks to the amazing Pate team for their dedication on their own time (Sunday) in the wheelchair push marathon and thanks to Joe for being a role model for all of us.