A Reflection of My Life after living in Uganda as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer

Saturday, August 8, 2009

5K With No Legs

As most of you know, I am a great runner. I hold numerous world records and am the envy of many a fellow runner. When I heard about a 5K in Uganda hosted by a PCV to raise money for a Life Skills program at her health center, I knew I needed to participate. Since it was a community outreach, I decided it wouldn’t be fair for me to usurp the Ugandan runners and so decided to participate in the race by pushing a disabled child in their wheelchair. What I didn’t anticipate was pushing a legless little boy without a seat belt in a beat up wheelchair on dirt roads in the bush of Uganda. This position was a thousand times harder than running a little 5K.

Robert was my little boy for the race. I blew up two balloons for him and tied them to his wheelchair. From the moment I wheeled him out of the home and to the start line all the way to the time I left him several hours later (through the race and following programs) he was grinning from ear to ear. As we raced along the dirt road and would hit a rock the wrong way which would send us swerving and heading straight into the ditch, Robert would squeal with delight. In the beginning, after having to slow down because each bump would almost send Robert flying out of his wheelchair, he looked up at me and asked, “Have you ever pushed one of these before?” I tried not to be offended and informed him I most certainly had just never on Ugandan dirt roads.

So, after conquering the loose graveled hills of Nkokonjeru, trying not to have a heart attack when watching a Ugandan down syndrome boy race a boy in a wheelchair and repeatedly let him almost fall out and dodging boda boda’s (motorcycles)who thought the sport was to run us off the road, Robert and I crossed the finish line 3rd of all those in the wheelchair heat.

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