Ryan's Run is held each year on Iron Bowl Weekend in memory of Ryan Colburn, who was an avid sports fan and loved the Iron Bowl Rivalry between Alabama and Auburn. Proceeds from this run benefit the Frazer Youth Worship Arts Program and the Ryan Colburn Youth Scholarship, which supports youth with disabilities to attend the National Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs Conference. This run attracts over 100 participants. Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite team colors.
This year Ryan's Run partnered with Ainsley's Angels, an organization that ensures everyone can experience endurance events. In addition this organization aims to build awareness about America's special needs community through inclusion and activism throughout local communities.
Mom and I learned about Ainsley's Angels at a 5K we ran in Tuscaloosa last August. When we heard Ryan's Run was partnering with the organization we knew we wanted to participate. We were so excited to be partnered with our assisted athlete, Kylie. Kylie has run in several events through Ainsley's Angels. She loves to run!
We had some time beforehand to visit with Kylie and her family. Kylie's mother is an ambassador for Ainsley's Angels and she helped organize everything for this race. Kylie's dad and grandmother were also at the race. Kylie had a busy weekend. Her family just returned from a Disney trip on Friday night in time for the race on Saturday. We took some prerace photos before lining up at the start line.
Pre race photo with Kylie
The Ainsley's Angels team of runners and assisted athletes
The race started promptly at 8:00. This was mine and mom's first time pushing a stroller. We were overly cautious, especially maneuvering through the crowd and around turns. We took turns pushing and we both had to push up one big hill.
Mom, Kylie, and I at the start of the race
We had so much fun running with Kylie. We looked at the houses decorated for Christmas. Kylie really liked one house with an angel out front. She kept saying, "Big house". We later realized that she refers to her grandmother as her "Big" and her grandmother has an angel at her house.
This was a down and back course. We cheered for the other Ainsley's Angel runners and assisted athletes on the course. Kylie was especially excited when she saw them. She sat up to get a better view of them coming by.
At one point Mom asked me, "Want me, want me?" She was asking if I needed her to take over with pushing, but it sounded like the beginning to the Whip Nae Nae song. So I started singing to Kylie, "Watch me, watch me. Let me see you whip, let me see you nae nae." She laughed. I asked her if she liked to dance and she smiled and shook her head yes. Then, I remembered she had a twin sister. I told her that I have twin boys in my class who love to dance to that song. She laughed again.
In the final mile, we underestimated how close we were to the finish. We kept telling Kylie, "This is our last big hill." "This is our last turn." Her mom told us that she would probably throw her blanket off at the finish. We noticed she gripped her blanket with all our talk of the finish line. When we made our final turn, I told Kylie we would run to the finish. I thought it was a straight shot, but I forgot one last maneuver. I stopped to walk through the final turn and Kylie sighed. She was ready to fly through the finish.
Kylie knows how to embrace the crowds and cheers of the finish line. She sat up in her chair and threw her arms out wide with the biggest smile on her face. Seeing Kylie's excitement made my mom and I even happier that we could take part in this race with her.
After the race, Kylie and other assisted athlete were recognized and presented their medals. Kylie was so excited to receive her medal. It had a football that moved to go with the Iron Bowl football theme of the race. She liked playing with the football. She couldn't wait to show her mom, dad, and her Big. She spotted them in the crowd and pointed to them. We knew it was time to say our goodbyes. Mom and I had so much fun meeting Kylie and running this race with her. We hope we can do more races with Ainsley's Angels in the future.
Have you ever heard of the Ainsley's Angels organization or participated in a race with them? Doesn't Kylie have the prettiest finish line photo you've ever seen?