Walter Payton once said, “Running alone is the toughest. You get to a point where you have to keep pushing yourself.” For Mini Ambassador, Rebecka Howard, she’s not only pushing herself, but also Stephen. Her #IndyMini story is about serving others and running for those who can’t.
Rebecka and Stephen met 8 years ago at the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Stephen was volunteering with Special Olympics at the finish line and handed water to Rebecka. His infectious smile made a lasting impression, and she made a point to seek him out the following years. In 2013, with the anticipation of seeing Stephen, Rebecka crossed the finish line to find he wasn’t there. Stephen’s grandfather passed away a couple days before the Mini-Marathon. Feeling led to attend the funeral, Rebecka reached out to Stephen’s family and a friendship was formed.
Stephen had always wanted to participate in the Mini-Marathon. His mom and Rebecka knew they could make it happen. Following the funeral, they committed to pushing Stephen in the 2014 Mini-Marathon in memory of his grandfather.
Rebecka has spent her life helping others. As a Director for an Agency serving individuals with disabilities, her passion is to bring awareness and inclusion for all. She’s always admired Eunice Kennedy, the Founder of Special Olympics. Eunice encouraged individuals to get off the sidelines and get involved. That’s exactly what Rebecka did for Stephen!
In 2014 Rebecka and Stephen lined up for their first Mini-Marathon together. He enjoyed every minute. He cheered on participants, gave high fives, and yelled, “I’ve got this!” along the entire course. Two hours later they crossed the finish line. It was at that point, she realized that she hadn’t pushed him. He had pulled her! She provided him the opportunity to experience the Mini-Marathon as a participant, and he gave her a memory she will never forget.
Following the Mini-Marathon, they were introduced to Ainsley’s Angels. Through their Power to Push Program, they were able to raise $6,000 to build Stephen a custom made Team Hoyt Racing Chair. In 2015 Rebecka and Stephen lined up once again for the Mini-Marathon with a new chair, complete with a picture of Stephen’s grandfather on the side and signatures of all their supporters.
When asked about her experience pushing Stephen, Rebecka says, “Words cannot express how it’s changed my outlook on fitness. What was once out of selfish ambition is now about helping others. Finish times, keeping pace, and beating personal records have all been long forgotten!”
Keep your eye out for this dynamic duo at the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. Stephen will be pulling Rebecka to the finish of the 40th Mini-Marathon!
What inspires you to participate in the 2016 Indy Mini? Share your story in the comments below or on our website, and you could be our next My#IndyMini story!