A Race of Hope, Possibility

and The Power of Applause!

Last Sunday I was privileged to participate in the NY Road Runners Achilles Hope and Possibility 5 miler on behalf of the Special Children’s Center. The Special Children’s Center is an amazing organization dedicated to improving the lives and providing support for children with special needs and their families. I know that it will be a day I will never forget; not simply because it was the first race I was ever part of, but rather because of Victoria, a 9 year old girl I had the privilege to cross the finishing line with.

The day was like no other. A group of 50 volunteers headed out to NYC with a group of amazing children who in spite of the difficulties they are facing have the strength of spirit to rise above. With smiles and excitement we boarded the bus. Having been a first timer I would never have imagined what was to come. Volunteers where paired up with a child with special needs and with the sound of the bell the race began. I along with Victoria’s sister, Gigi, and a young and enthusiastic 12-year-old volunteer, Carolyn, had the honor of pushing Victoria’s wheelchair. At certain points in the race we held on tightly to the wheelchair and began running. The smile on Victoria’s face as the feeling of the wind brushed against her face and the feeling that consumed our hearts was indescribable.

The thing that struck me the most during the race were the amazing people running along side us. As we were walking, hundreds of runners passed us by and clapped their hands with such love and encouragement for Victoria. The sound of people clapping, cheering and applauding Victoria filled my heart with such happiness. “Way to go…You can do it…We’re proud of you!” I never understood the power of applause until that day. Just a simple clapping of the hands can fill someone with such an empowering and encouraging feeling. As runners clapped their hands my own spirits were lifted and I felt such unity and connection to each runner passing by.

As we approached the finish line, the applause grew louder and louder. I could feel Victoria’s energy increasing. Before we crossed the finish line the counselors brought Victoria her walker. She jumped up and with a big smile and loads of excitement I watched as Victoria ran across the finish line – stopping on the way to hug those who were there to support her. The look on her face when they placed a medal on her and applauded her strength is a look I will most certainly never forget.

As we stood by the side lines and continued cheering on those crossing the finish line I took great notice to their reaction as the crowd raised their voices in acknowledgment of their accomplishment.

I learned a great deal that day from Victoria, the other children with special needs that participated, as well as all the amazing people associated with the NYRR Achilles Race. I learned that strength of heart and determination has the ability to help you overcome any obstacles.

I’d like to thank Effie Harary, Adele Laboz and Cindy Gindi for organizing such a phenomenal day and inviting me to take part in it. The greatest thank you goes out to the Special Children’s Center for their amazing work and last but certainly not least the wonderful children and their families who allowed me to be part of their team for the day.

To learn more about the Special Children’s Center and the amazing work they do click here