INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Teamwork is a common theme at the 500 Festival Mini Marathon.
Runners often train side-by-side with others for months ahead of the big day, and they encourage and support each right up until the run.
Then, most people run their own individual races.
But some teams stay together every step of the 13.1 miles and for all the miles beyond. Mike and Jack McGee are just such a team.
Mike McGee’s pre-run routine features a few more steps than most. He laces up his shoes, and then he hauls out of his trunk a large three-wheeled chair and assembles it in the parking lot.
After that, he reaches into the back passenger seat and embraces his son in a bear hug, lifting him out and into the chair while asking a question:
“Let’s go for a run, OK?”
He already knows the answer. Jack McGee loves these long runs, because they give him a freedom that his body cannot.
“Jack’s 13 and he has cerebral palsy and he’s not verbal and can’t walk and get around on his own at all,” Mike McGee says.
So, Dad runs for him and with him. They’ve become fixtures in the Mini, well-known among the organizers and popular along the route.
“I’m not exaggerating when I say we probably get 500 people say something to him,” Mike McGee says.
Dad is far from Jack’s only supporter. His family spans several siblings and step-siblings – and all help him experience activities that he would otherwise miss.
Jack McGee has played softball, visited amusement parks, and climbed rope ladders – all through the strength of his family’s arms and legs.
When 24-Hour News 8 tagged along to a recent Team McGee training run, we asked Mike what Jack brings to the team.
“He provides the motivation,” replied Mike McGee. “He wants to run. He knows we’re in the running chair and he wants to go. He loves doing it. He loves the wind in his face, he’s laughing all the time. It’s really cool.”
24-Hour News 8 asked if Dad ever gets emotional during the Mini.
“Yeah. I do. I do,” he said quietly. “When people come up to us and say something and look at me and say ‘You’re my hero!” No, I’m not the hero. He’s the hero. I think he’s a hero because of the way he motivates me, motivates other people just through having a smile on his face through all of his challenges.”
Jack McGee is currently part of a national contest to identify people and families that need improved transportation options. If you’d like to learn more about it and vote, head here.