Family dreams up 10K race to promote mobility

Shan Harriman is finding ways for her daughter Lexi to fly.

Ms. Harriman and Lexi, 10, participated in the Autism Awareness Walk/Run in April, and now they are staging a fundraising race of their own to allow them to continue in their favorite pursuit.

The 10K race, dubbed Wings For Lexi, will take place on Sunday, June 24, at 6:30 a.m., and Ms. Harriman hopes to raise enough money to buy a racing wheelchair for her daughter. The chair costs US$4,000, but it will allow Ms. Harriman and Lexi to keep running together and to set an example for countless families.

“I think that this race and raising funds for another chair is really all about inclusion and ensuring that members of our community with disabilities can participate in sporting events,” said Ms. Harriman of the ultimate mission. “But on a personal note, for me, it’s about the smile on my daughter’s face and the beam in her eyes from being able to run and being part of an energetic group of people.”

Ms. Harriman was inspired by local endurance athlete Scott Ruby, who ran assisted marathons with Nikki Christian, who lives with cerebral palsy. Their team is known as Nikki’s Voice. The Harrimans borrowed Mr. Ruby’s and Ms. Christian’s chair to participate in the autism awareness race and again at the Deputy Governor’s 5K Challenge. They hope a new racing wheelchair will allow them to run more often.

“To be honest, I would give him the most credit,” Ms. Harriman said of Mr. Ruby. “I definitely want to continue running with Lexi, and I definitely would like to get our own chair. We just kind of came together and said, ‘Well, how about we do a fundraiser?’ That’s how the idea was born.”

The race will take place near the Kimpton Seafire. Participants will run by the Kimpton up the old West Bay Road, over the Kimpton bridge and back around the loop six times. Ms. Harriman and Lexi have already begun training on the course, and they believe it will be a difficult but fun endeavor.

“It’s quite challenging, that uphill slope,” she said. “Once you clear it, coming down is smooth sailing.”

The race will be held early in the morning, which might limit participation, but Ms. Harriman believes there will be many members of the local CrossFit community that will come out to support the cause.

The race is free to join, and there will not be any prizes or T-shirts as a token for participation. But Ms. Harriman hopes that people will join it to be active and to inspire others along the way.

“I’m hoping it will stimulate our community,” she said. “Maybe it’s something where parents can get involved with their kids who aren’t mobile. They can get them out and get them involved in sport activities, and it’s always a great way to build a bond with your child. Sometimes it’s hard during the week, but if you can spend quality time doing something your kids love, that’s important.”

As for Lexi, she is just as excited as her mom about the project.

“When we drive over the Kimpton bridge, she says, ‘Run, run!’” Ms. Harriman said. “We go there running in the morning. The team we run with has really embraced her. On Sunday mornings, we run that same road, and after, we ask ‘What are we grateful for?’ on the beach. She loves sitting there and listening to other people. I try to get her to be social with other people and the team is so accepting.”

People interested in contributing to the cause can check out the Wings for Lexi page on www.caymanactive.com/events/710-lexi/photos/7061-wingsforlexi.