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Group Bringing Runners, Children with Special Needs Together

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BROWNSVILLE – Children with special needs and their families can go through a marathon of emotions and physical challenges.

RunForMe-RGV is an organization that removes barriers limiting children with special needs in outdoor activities. 

Special athletes like Diego, Delilah and Nathan want others to know a wheel chair or disability does not confine them.  In the group people for these athletes, they are called buddies.

"Initially, he didn't start off running. It was me running for him and it wasn't until his mom kind of decided let’s try it together. And so he started walking in the beginning and then he became inspired to run even more. From there it's just kind of taken off,” said Running buddy Anna Riojas.

Maribel Telles said she and her team run for her 16-year-old daughter Delilah.

"She cannot be here. My daughter's on life support and she's very high risk for infections. So we got people that love her and it means a lot to me guys. It means a lot,” she said.

A Mile in My Shoes 5K Buddy Run is the first race the runners and their special athletes can come together.  Buddies span across the state, from San Antonio to Brownsville. 

Race organizer Monika Mata said this is all part of RunForMe-RGV.

"We pair athletes with kids with special needs. And the athlete dedicates each workout, run, everything to their special needs buddy,” she said.

Mata said runners with all abilities take part.

Nathan Rios is blind and has run 12 5Ks or 3.1 miles races.

“It makes me feel proud of myself,” he told CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

RunForMe-RGV started a year ago. That’s when Anna Riojas and Nathan started running.  

Riojas said the miles changed Nathan’s life.

"He’s become more outspoken than he was. In the very beginning he was very shy, he was very timid. He didn't really talk too much,” she explained. “Our first race, I think he may have said one or two words to throughout the entire time. And now we're just talking the entire time to keep each other going throughout the race."

In Nathan’s final stretch of the race, his face smiled with excitement as he received his medal. His message to others was clear.

"Believe in yourself. Remember, there's no such things as can't. Never quit, never give up and never stop,” he said.

Riojas said the special athletes forget their doubts and create motivation.
She added this leaves others inspired. 

Organizers said 450 people registered for the race this year. All the proceeds go to purchasing push carts for children with special needs. 

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