Oklahoma Volunteers Share Gift Of Running With Disabled Friends

Monday, April 10th 2017, 6:36 pm
By: News On 6

Some Owasso elementary students are practicing hard for their school's annual Hero’s Run.

This year, students will be running alongside a special group of heroes thanks to Ainsley's Angels, a non-profit group focused on building awareness about America's special needs community.

Their mission in Tulsa is to make sure everyone knows what it feels like to cross a finish line for the first time.

Kenzie Burnside, 21, was born with Cerebral Palsy and has been in a wheelchair her entire life, but that’s not stopping her from practicing for her second 5K race.

Ainsley's Angels donates special wheelchairs to runners like Kenzie with special needs. Each rider is paired with at least two runners who push the wheelchair through the race.

Ambassador Jarrett Banks said the program is about more than just running.

"If anyone has ever completed at 5K or completed a half marathon or a marathon, there is this sense of fulfillment that you've completed something you've worked hard for, and we are giving that same feeling, that sense of fulfillment and joy to someone who has never been able to run - and some of them have never been able to walk before,” Banks said.

With every race, Banks uses the opportunity to teach his riders, runners and partners about inclusion; he said after getting involved with the project he will never go back to running alone again.

"It's just pure joy. And for me, as a runner, I've participated in a lot of races. I'm 50 years old, I've been doing this a long time, to know that I can include someone and share the joy of running with someone who has never had that before is just remarkable," he said.

Banks said the Tulsa-area Ainsley's Angels is just getting started and needs donations, riders and runners. You can find more information here.