By Shaun Evans
Today, Shamus and I crossed the finish line of a 60-day, 15-state, 3,205-mile transcontinental run, marking a significant milestone in our “Power to Push” journey.
Although my 9-year-old son Shamus is faced with cerebral palsy that limits his ability to walk, this summer has once again proven that his spirit is limitless. When Shamus was born, my wife Nichole and I promised each other that we would do everything in our power to never let him feel different or limited by his disability.
This is where our journey really began. In 2013, fellow father-son duo Team Hoyt connected us with Ainsley’s Angels, a national nonprofit that aims to promote inclusion among the special needs community. Ainsley’s Angels gifted us a Freedom Chair, a more-mobile running stroller that would allow Shamus to participate in road races with me.
After a few road races, Shamus said he wanted to try an ultra-marathon. Exceeding our own expectations, we did participate and won among some outstanding, well-bodied competitors. After that, Shamus wanted to do something bigger — he had the idea to run from coast to coast, sharing the gift of mobility with kids just like him and allowing them to also “feel the wind in their hair.”
On July 3, after lots of planning and fundraising, we started our Power to Push journey in Seattle, with our toes in the Pacific, and headed east. The first few days were extremely hot, but the American countryside was an amazing backdrop for this epic journey our family was embarking on. My wife Nichole — the true hero — followed us in an RV, and we set up camp at campsites along the way. In each of the 15 states, we donated a Freedom Chair to at least one family.
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These chair presentations were what kept me going during my 50- to 60-mile days. Shamus and the beneficiaries from state to state speak volumes to the power of inspiration. In total, we were able to donate more than 25 chairs with the help of our community and great sponsors like LÄRABAR and so many others. That’s 25 families that will get to experience new things together they might not have been able to otherwise.
What we have just accomplished is almost unfathomable. My body has been able to do things I never knew it was capable of doing. The most popular question I have been asked is, “How did you do it?” As I ponder that question, the answer is simple: With the right inspiration, anything is possible.
About the author: Shaun Evans is an ultra-marathon runner from upstate New York. Along with his 9-year-old son Shamus, who has cerebral palsy, Shaun spent the summer running more than 3,205 miles total, covering 15 states in the span of just 60 days. Shaun and Shamus ran on behalf of Ainsley’s Angels, a national nonprofit that aims to build awareness about the special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life.
Images: Courtesy of Stuart Ramson/AP Images for Larabar