Jeffrey's Fierce Hard Chargers Are CRUSHING Their Goal!
March 10, 2016
BENEFITING: AINSLEYSANGELS OF AMERICA
It is truly beautiful that Jeffrey's path to the Marine Corps Marathon comes through raising support for Ainsley's Angels and increasing awareness of inclusion for all.
Jeffrey was born healthy and progressed as any neurotypical child would. His life changed dramatically on May 24, 2008 when at the age of 22 months he suffered a sudden cardiac arrest at home. His cardiopulmonary resuscitation was ultimately successful, but only after nearly 20 minutes of sustained oxygen deprivation to his brain. This anoxic brain injury has left Jeffrey facing many difficult challenges. He is not able to walk, and is fed primarily by a tube in his stomach. While Jeffrey is unable to speak he has worked hard to show that he understands at an age appropriate level and is able to communicate his thoughts. Having a body that doesn't cooperate with him, yet a mind that knows what it wants to do can be extremely frustrating, but none of that stops Jeffrey from sharing his big smiles and infectious laughter with everyone he encounters.
That smile and personality easily won over his "runner buddy," Kareen when they were matched via the organization "I Run 4 Michael" on September 21, 2013. Since that pairing Kareen has logged thousands of miles in his honor and has participated in so many races, each time collecting and sending the medals and souvenirs to him in special care packages that have filled our home with so much love and joy! All of her efforts on his behalf, constant encouragement and motivation eventually were contagious as well.
I'm Jeffrey's mom, Jess, and I was so inspired by what I witnessed Kareen doing for my son that I felt strongly about reclaiming my own health. As a special needs parent it becomes very easy to put yourself last. That paired with poor eating habits, and the stress that goes along with the territory contributed to my being obese. I started working out regularly and eventually started running. In all, I lost over 40 pounds, but in doing so I have gained so much more. When I began running I asked Jeffrey if he would like to go with me, he did, and it turned out that he LOVED it! We had run together many miles, using an adaptive stroller that "got the job done," but was in no way ideal for running endurance events. Once we had conquered many 5K's and 10K's we set our sights on a half marathon but knew we needed new wheels.
That's where I Run 4 and Ainsley's Angels stepped in. Specialized wheelchairs for running are not a small purchase, especially when you consider that most special needs families already stretch their budgets to cover co-pays, hospital stays, therapies etc. Insurance coverage and community programs only extend so far, and when you already own a standard wheelchair finding funding sources for a specialized chair of this nature is difficult. These sources aren't able to consider the value that a chair for running would bring my child priceless joy and community inclusion in endurance events into their fiscal bottom line. BUT Ainsley's Angels, through their partnership with I Run 4 Michael, took that value and made it the only data that mattered. We applied through a special "give back program" and anticipated that we might still need to come up with some of the funds to help cover the cost of a Freedom Chair; then were completely blown away when Ainsley's Angels granted Jeffrey a brand new chair at no cost to us! That's the heart of this organization-they desire to get these chairs into the community so that more and more individuals with special needs can experience the same joy and freedom that Jeffrey does when we go out for a run.
That brings us full circle to today. Jeffrey and I completed our half marathon, and have set our sights on the full. Kareen has run many marathons, including repeated showings at the Marine Corps Marathon. Which is why when presented with the opportunity to run as a team with the Ainsley's Angels charity it was a no brainer! It would be a dream come true for Jeffrey, Kareen and I to cross the finish line at MCM 2016 together; but even better is that with the funds we raise we get to spread the love by granting a new Freedom Chair to someone special just like the blessing we ourselves received! Of course these two things will only be possible if we fully meet our fundraising goal of $2,550.00. Please consider donating any amount to help get us to the MCM, be able to gift someone a chair AND at the same time help Ainsley's Angels in their mission.
Our sincere thanks,
Jess and Jeffrey Bergeman & Kareen Lawson