The local chapter of My Team Triumph: Wings of Texas and its members are making it possible for athletes with disabilities to suit up for running events that allow them to build relationships among their teams as well as the community.
When Michelle and Rusty Jones, the founders of the local chapter, were looking for a way to lead a more active lifestyle, they began running. After an event in Austin, they were inspired by a group of participants in endurance wheelchairs being pushed by other runners. They knew this was the perfect opportunity to have their son, Charlie — who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair — join them in their new running journey.
When the Joneses brought Charlie to his first race, they were met with tremendous support from the runners. In 2014, the family decided to implement a local chapter of Wings of Texas. That year, the organization kicked off its inaugural run with only two captains and three angels. Eight years later, the organization has certainly grown.
As for how the organization operates, captains are the individuals with disabilities and angels are the volunteers recruited to help them cross the finish line. “They participate in the event however they are able,” said Thomas Cronnon, executive director of My Team Triumph. “For some, that is by sitting in the chair and being pushed across the finish line, and for others, they will actually walk the distance with an angel as a guide.” Led by the motto “any pace helps get them in the race,” all volunteers need is a willingness to serve; speed doesn’t matter.
For short-distance races, the organization puts a call out on Facebook for angel volunteers, who are then paired with a captain based on their pace. For the long-distance half marathons, angels will self-select their teammates at the end of the summer so they can start training for set races taking place in the winter months.
Cronnon says Wings of Texas is focused on extending the available opportunities for individuals with disabilities in our community. “You can’t have inclusion without being in the community, and we feel that anything happening in the community has the ability to adapt to be inclusive,” he shared.
Whether it is a running or sporting event, or even a festival, Cronnon and the team are focused on getting Corpus Christi to embrace individuals with disabilities and recognize the value they bring to the community. Regardless of where their interests lie, inclusion will allow them to pursue their passions without any barriers.