One cloudy morning a “walk and roll” 5K was held at a home for disabled adults, all of whom were in wheelchairs, either manual or electric. Dark skies threatened and a rainy mist fell during most of the 5K that wasn’t a race because everyone who finished was a winner. The goal for the participants was to do the best they could with the circumstances they had been given in life. 

Severe storms were in the forecast for the area, but even though a steadier rain came down near the end of the 5K, the clouds threatened but did not destroy the event.

Hours and hours had gone into planning for the day. Excitement ran high as the participants were prepared to go out into the park and onto the path. As helpers wrapped them in protective raingear and pushed them toward the doors, the helpers stayed behind to prepare the rest, shouting, “Good luck! We’ll be here when you get back!””

Strong arms helped push the wheelchairs along, most of the pushers unseen by the people in the chairs. Voices offered encouraging words to those whose goal was to reach the end without giving up. Some didn’t go as far as the others for various reasons. Their journey was shorter but complete nonetheless.

Along the way, stations with helpers stood by to offer cool refreshment and first aid to the walkers and rollers. Words of encouragement and caring hands lifted them up and sent them on their way to the end.

Everyone had their own set of problems to deal with during the 5K. Some could operate electric wheelchairs, some had to be pushed, one could operate a low manual tricycle. One woman was blind, many couldn’t talk, some had missing limbs, one was missing both arms and legs. But everyone could try hard and at his or her own speed and in their own way finish.

The last bit of the journey was a slight slope, requiring just a little more effort. But a group of cheerleaders waited at the end, shouting to everyone to but try as hard as they could and finish. Then, as one by one the walkers and rollers crossed the finish line, a big shout went up, welcoming them back to where they had begun.

Faces beamed as still more helpers put medals around everyone’s neck and invited them to stay and enjoy a rest after their journey.

And so they returned to where they had started with a good feeling that they had tried and succeeded. Finally, for their magnificent effort, everyone received a reward from a bottomless container of cool water and the most delicious cookies ever.

Susan Elzey writes a weekly humor column for the Danville Register & Bee in Danville, Va. Her columns may be read at Scroll to the bottom of the home page and do a site search for “7XMOM” and “Elzey.”