Monday, June 12, 2017

Bellin Buddies

If you're familiar with our family, then you know about myTEAM Triumph (MTT) and I Run 4 (IR4). Both are non-profit organizations that aim to build relationships and foster inclusion through partnering athletes with people with disabilities. MTT focuses on in-person relationships within local communities, and IR4 takes advantage of technology to build an online community. Both have had a tremendous impact on our family, and this past weekend combined the two together for  the first time.

Teddy's running buddy Heather, from IR4, made the (extra) long drive (thanks to horrible traffic) from Michigan to our house in Wisconsin. She and her husband Steve had volunteered to be Teddy's angels through MTT for the Bellin Run this past weekend. That meant they both fundraised a minimum of $100 (to cover entry costs for themselves and ensure captains like Teddy can race for free). They took time off work. Then, after spending most of Friday driving here, they got back in a car at 5:30 a.m. to head up for the race.

Captain Frumpy Face Teddy

Teddy was a bit sleepy, which actually worked out well because he wasn't trying to escape from his race chair during the pre-race preparations. (He was in his chair longer than usual because there were a record 41 MTT teams, which required a bit extra coordination.) He perked up about a third of the way through the race and realized he could play with the balloons we had attached to his chair. (I'd definitely do that again because it let the runners passing us from behind know Teddy's name to cheer for him.) Teddy got stopped by Davon House, one of the Green Bay Packers, for a photo opp (that unfortunately didn't turn out but was still pretty darn cool). He loved every sprinkler we went through, which was quite a few. Teddy shared a freezie pop with Heather. (It was so hot that several people along the route were handing out freezie pops out of their Midwestern hospitality and generosity. We passed up the free margaritas, though, because we thought we perhaps shouldn't tarnish Teddy's and MTT's image.)

Teddy flying with his MTT (and IR4) Angels

Each race with MTT has been incredible in its own way. This race literally flew by, even though it's the first time Teddy's done a 10k instead of a 5k. I've done the Bellin more than 5 times, and this was by far the most fun I've ever had doing the Bellin. I think my PR (personal record) from last year will stand for quite some time because I don't see myself running the Bellin again without Teddy and MTT. Not only did Dave and AJ join us, but we also had both sets of grandparents cheering on Team Teddy. (And his speech therapist found us before the race, which is remarkable considering that we were among 13,000 people there!)

The rest of the weekend spent with our family and Heather and Steve was equally awesome. After Teddy took a much-needed nap, we  headed to the waterpark in town. He led Grandpa through all the sprinklers in the kiddie area while the rest of us watched in amusement. AJ loved the lazy river, and so did Teddy, especially all the sprinklers. We went down the waterslides a few times, which is Teddy's favorite part.

This is one of my favorite photos of the weekend!

It was incredible to meet Heather, who's basically a celebrity among our family because of how supportive she is of Teddy. Now Teddy knows there's a person behind the photos I show him when Heather shares pictures with us. Teddy adored her and was a bit infatuated with Steve (probably because he convinced Steve to give him a piggyback ride). This weekend reaffirmed our desire to get to Michigan to meet my running buddy Luke and AJ's running buddy Miss Bridget. We'll see ... we already started plotting doing the Detroit marathon in 2018 as a relay team of running buddies!

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