Marathon Volunteers Help Special Needs Runners Finish Strong
TULSA, Oklahoma - Thousands of runners from all around the world took over Tulsa streets for the Route 66 Marathon this weekend.
The marathon, half marathon, and relay races drew a huge crowd downtown.
All of the athletes overcame obstacles, pushing through their races one mile at a time.
Some race volunteers help people with special needs finish strong.
As the Route 66 athletes take off, they're not all on their feet.
But the desire to cross the finish line is the same.
26-year-old Andrew Stephens loves running.
"When he did his first fun run and he watched all those 5k runners come in - he was hooked," said Andrew’s mother Susan Stephens.
This is his first half marathon.
"He has had serious knee surgeries, so he's not able to run long distances," said Susan.
That's where Ainsley's Angels step in.
Volunteers with the non-profit are called "Angel Runners."
"They are truly angels," Susan says.
They run the race, pushing each "athlete rider" along the course.
"They just make him feel special," said Susan.
And Andrew has a way of making the volunteers feel special too, encouraging them through each mile.
"He sings to them. He gets them to go faster," Susan said.
"I love my girls!” said Andrew.
Andrew has down syndrome.
As he and five others with special needs cross the finish line with pride, his mom discovers this is really only the beginning.
"And they're trying to talk us into a marathon. Which, Andrew would love. We'll just have to make sure we have runners that can handle it. That's a long time, but, he would love it," Susan said.
Ainsley's Angels is pretty new to Oklahoma, and the group is always looking for volunteers.
To find out how you can get involved, visit their website.