FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larry Herman
Wheelchair-Bound Quadriplegics Inspire
While Experiencing the Marathon
FREDERICK, Md. - (April 30, 2006) - Seven severely disabled people were
pushed by over 50 volunteers in the Frederick Marathon on Sunday, April 30.
This was the inaugural race for the "Running Down a Dream" project which
promised and succeeded in bringing the experience and joy of running to
those who can't.
One-by-one as they rounded the final turn and blazed through the final
stretch, crescendos of cheers descended like a waterfall of admiration on
Harry Grove Stadium, home of the Frederick Keys baseball team and the
finish line of the Frederick Marathon. Tears streamed down the faces of
participant riders, volunteer pushers, other runners and spectators alike
in what turned out to be a wildly successful, awe-inspiring demonstration
of love, courage and hope.
At the area's biggest sporting event, they were up at the crack of dawn and
assembled at the rear of the start line to make the trek through the 26.2
miles of streets and roads in and around Frederick.
"I was broken up when I saw the folks cross the starting line, giggling and
laughing. When I looked around and saw Race Director Rachel Ridgway crying,
I realized the impact that this had on so many more than just those
participating. It was as touching a moment as I have ever experienced, and
I heard that from hundreds of people all day long," said Running Down a
Dream Project Founder, Dr. Larry Herman, a Frederick resident and
At the end of them all was Kathy Poole in her motorized wheelchair cross
the starting mat with a grin that seemed bigger than her face itself.
After each rider finished, got their medal, finisher's shirt and post-race
food, they went back to the homestretch to wait for the next one of their
friends, some waiting for hours, to share the excitement.
There was Lucas Beall, who needed none of the preparations his family made
in case he was bored or unhappy with the experience, smiling and writhing
with joy every step of the way with family and friends behind him.
Crowd favorites Walter Greene and Jimmy Nicewarmer had the times of their
lives as well. High-fiving spectators all along the course, hooting,
hollering and yelling for the volunteers to push faster and not let the
other get ahead, they gave the experienced marathoners all the reasons they
needed to push and run like they had never done so before.
Led by 14-year-old Team Coordinator Caroline Browning, the Urbana High
School Girls Track Team pushed fellow student Erin Kiernan to a second
place age group finish in 4 hours, 19 minutes and 20 seconds. Seasoned
runner and veteran finisher of 25 marathons, John Kinnaman ran next to the
girls in case they needed his help on any tough parts of the course. They
didn't. But, when with a mile left to go, the girls realized that their
adrenaline had left Mr. Kinnaman behind, they did what their hearts told
them. They stopped, cheered on other runners, and waited so they could
finish next to the man that was next to them through the entire run. A
powerful and beautiful gesture from girls that live lives bigger than their
years would suggest.
During one of the practice runs leading up to the race, Erin spoke of how
she had spent her entire life in a wheelchair, and was finally having fun
in it. After the race, the look on her and her parents, Pat and Karen
Kiernan's faces, was an unforgettable memory for all, as they placed the
finisher bumper sticker on the back of Erin's wheelchair.
Truly a day filled with memories that will last lifetimes and stories that
will inspire smiles every time they are told.
Herman hopes to eventually recruit participants, sponsors and support for
entrance in races throughout the United States and beyond and welcomes
pushers, riders, volunteers and sponsors for teams to contact "Running Down
a Dream" at www.RDAD.org.