How A Single Runner Inspired Him To Make A Difference

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How A Single Runner Inspired Him To Make A Difference

On June 9th of 2017 I received an email from a friend of my husband who had fallen in love with Maddie’s charmingly whimsical Kitty Cool cards. He had purchased some and wanted to reach out to me and relate a story about a man with Cerebral Palsy that he thought might interest me. This story is lovingly shared below by Don De Benedictis and will surely bring a tear to your eye. It was this chance encounter that proved to change the trajectory of Don’s life and career thereafter.

Don’s experience inspired him to bless hundreds of developmentally challenged adults, and now serves to benefit children with Cerebral Palsy. Thanks in part to the volunteer efforts of Don De Benedictis, Children’s Cerebral Palsy Movement will proudly offer a CP Walk/Run experience for children with Cerebral Palsy in Orange County, CA on March 3rd, 2018. This Walk/Run experience will be a fabulous opportunity to exercise and to meet other children and families with CP, as well as to become acquainted with the exciting Community Programs that Children’s Cerebral Palsy Movement has to offer. Best of all, special Running Buddies will be made available to children in need of some extra help, compliments of the Capistrano High School track team.

Don’s story cannot help but remind one of Margaret Mead’s famous quote… “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.” To this I say, yes and amen!

– Debbie Fragner, Founder Children’s Cerebral Palsy Movement

Over the course of the past 20 years, I have participated in many 5k runs, and accumulated some cherished memories. But one stands out far above the others. October 31, 2015…it was a beautiful autumn day in Southern California, the setting for the 6th annual Whittier Spooktacular 5k run/walk.

This Halloween themed event attracts a wide range of participants. There are fast, serious runners of all ages, families all in matching costumes, groups of friends walking the 5000 meter (3.1 mile) route, and just average runners like me. I enjoyed my usual middle-of-the-pack finish, all the while marveling at the creativity of some of the costumes. Little did I know I was about to experience the most inspiring moment of my life.

After a brief post-race recovery, I wandered back towards the finish line to cheer on the remaining finishers. At about the 75 minute mark, a couple pairs of walkers finished and I thought they were the last. So I started to cross the street heading home. Then I noticed, a couple blocks down the course, two police cars with lights flashing. There appeared to be quite a crowd of people around these cars. I was curious about what was going on and decided to stick around and watch.

As this group got closer, I could start to make out details. The crowd was a large group of Whittier High School football players and cheerleaders. I could hear them chanting “We are proud of you!” And I could see there was one last 5k participant relentlessly pursuing the finish line with cane in hand. I was standing right at the finish line as this strong brave 49 year old man with cerebral palsy took one after another small painful step. With a look of determination on his face you rarely see, he crossed the finish line to loud cheers from the bystanders, in just under 81 minutes. I was overcome with emotion and cried like a baby. I loved seeing my home community give so much support to his effort. This memory has given me greater courage to face challenges in my own life. Thank you Jesse Earhart for the inspiration!

Find out how you can register for the Oso Fit Cerebral Palsy Kids Walk/Run:

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