Maissie, her mother Kamala, and brother Taylor love participating in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon each May. Alongside more than 30,000 other participants, they take to the streets of downtown and cross into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the first Saturday of May. However, their #IndyMini experience is a little different than the traditional runner.
“I haven’t always loved to run. In fact, there was a time I never ran. Running for me really began after I had my third child. My husband was deployed so I decided I was going to train and run my first half marathon. In February of 2015, I stood in the corral waiting for my time to run. As I was standing with thousands of people I heard them start the race with the lead being the wheel chair division. I thought it was so cool, and thought about it for several days. I thought how much my brother Taylor, who was born with cerebral palsy and has been wheel chair bound since birth, and how someone should do this with him. I thought it would be too hard for me being a military spouse and being so far away, until it dawned on me that I could do it because if there’s a will there’s a way. I set out on the mission to get him a chair and have the opportunity to be included.
I found Ainsley’s Angles, set up a fundraiser and raised the money for a race chair for my brother. Taylor and I run the Indy Mini now every year and it’s a tradition we love. Taylor lives in Wabash, Ind., so we occasionally run the very hilly streets in Wabash while we pretend to be running our own race and train for the Indy Mini. Taylor knows when I surprise him at his home that we are going running. When I walk in and ask him what he wants to do he tells me “RUN!” He’s always ready roll.
Our first Mini was magical and they just keep getting better. We are signed up and ready to roll on May 4. He particularly loves the IU cheerleaders at the top of the hill as we enter the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Taylor looks forward the Indy Mini just as much as I do, Taylor inspires me to keep running and training so I can be the best I can be as we make 13.1 miles of smiles. Since February of 2015, I have completed 20 half marathons with the majority of them being with Ainsley’s Angels. Indy Mini is a memorable run where Taylor feels free and included. The smile on his face during our runs is all the motivation I need. I hope that along the course of the Indy Mini that we inspire someone else and they can also have a 13.1 miles of smiles.”
“Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Up until I was diagnosed I was an avid runner. I would run daily for pure enjoyment. When I was down and isolated with only my thoughts and the cancer, I decided I was going to run the Indy Mini, all because I wanted to do something to prove my strength to nobody but myself.
In May of 2009 I kicked the thyroid cancer to the curb and ran my first official half marathon. Completing that half made me feel as though I could conquer whatever came my way. Running without a thyroid can be challenging at times but having the will power along with the right support as well as nutrition I know I can do it.
I only ran the Indy Mini once until my daughter, who also runs, called to ask if I’d run the Indy Mini with her while she pushes her half-brother with the help of Ainsley’s Angels. This year will be our third year together running the Indy Mini with Ainsley’s Angles and Team Taylor. I’m flattered to able to be a part of Team Taylor. Taylor is a special young man; I truly love running along with him as he giggles the whole 13.1 miles. He lights up the way with his big smile as we roll with the wind. Running alongside my daughter and her half-brother makes all my miles worth it. I may have had cancer but the cancer didn’t have me, I am grateful I was able to overcome my struggles so I could have the opportunity to feel the real meaning of inclusion. I look forward to the Indy Mini every year, I tell everyone how I get to run with Team Taylor, we even try to do theme outfits. Last year was a good one as we ran the streets in all IU gear, this year Team Taylor will be very bright.”
Register now for the 2019 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. All Mini-Marathon and 5K registrations support 500 Festival children’s and educational programming. By participating in Mini with a Meaning, runners and walkers have the ability to make an impact in multiple ways within the Indianapolis community. Learn more how your registration can support organizations like Ainsley’s Angels: https://www.indymini.com/p/mini-marathon/miniwithameaning