Rock County included on father-son trek across America
When father and son duo Shaun and Shamus Evans traveled through Rock County Tuesday morning, the event meant they were halfway to completing their 3,205-mile run from Seattle, Washington, to New York City.
The Evans’ journey is to generate awareness for Ainsley’s Angels, which promotes inclusion and active lifestyles for children with disabilities.
Ainsley’s Angels is a non-profit organization named after Ainsley Rossiter, who was diagnosed with infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy at the age 4. INAD is an extremely rare terminal illness that slowly causes global paralysis.
However, through the use of a racing chariot, 13-year-old Ainsley can experience the freedom of running by safely being pushed in the large stroller. Running has allowed her family a therapeutic release in dealing with their daughter’s devastating disease.
Ainsley’s Angels gave a running chariot to the Evans family of Galway, New York.
Dad Shawn Evans is an ultra-marathon runner and the chariot allowed Shamus, who was born with cerebral palsy (CP) and confined in a wheelchair, the opportunity to experience the feeling of running with his dad.
“It gets them off the sidelines,” said mom Nichole Evans.
Shamus came up with the idea of “Power to Push,” the cross-country run the Evans family is currently completing.
So far, the journey that is expected to take 70 days has been enjoyable, especially last week’s stop at Mount Rushmore.
“It was big,” Shamus said.
While there, he was able to view hailstones for the first time in a storm while in Custer, South Dakota, with his brother, Simon, 7, who remarked in awe that “it rained ice cubes,” Nichole explained.
Sightseeing aside, the daily runs with his dad have been the most enjoyable.
However, the journey through Rock County by running chariot was limited to just outside of Beaver Creek because paved shoulders were not available along County Road 4. In cases where it is unsafe to push the chariot, Shawn runs alone.
Since leaving Seattle on July 4, he has averaged 50 to 60 miles per day, rotating through 10 pairs of running shoes. Only one pair is completely worn beyond any further use, Nichole said.
She is the primary driver of the recreational vehicle that travels ahead of Shawn on their awareness-building journey.
The journey will take them through 15 states, and at each overnight stop the family presents a running chariot to another family.
At Tuesday’s stop in Worthington they presented a chariot to 18-year-old Tori Van Peursem of Chandler, who often completes her physical therapy in Luverne.
Van Peursem, the daughter of Ivan and Marilyn, was also diagnosed with CP at birth and is confined to a wheelchair.
“This (running chariot) gives her a chance to roll with the wind,” Marilyn said.
The $1,000 chairs are considered medical equipment but are often not covered by insurance, Nichole said.
The feeling of freedom experienced by Shamus while riding in the chariot prompted him to pester his parents for two years to complete the cross country trek and pay his positive experience back by giving a running chariot to others.
Shamus’ desire to help motivates his dad, a physical therapist.
“My passion is being a dad,” Shawn said.
Nichole, a teacher, added that many fathers of children with disabilities distance themselves from physical interaction with their children. The running chariot allows a way to connect over a common activity.
The Evans’ Power to Push journey will end Sept. 1 in New York City with a final chariot presentation at Citi Field, home of the New York Mets.
The Evans’ journey can be followed on the Ainsley’s Angels of America website at www.ainsleysangels.org.