We all have that one hobby that has stuck with us over the years. For Brian Matochik the past two decades, that hobby has been running. His latest venture—Rolling Runners— creates race participation accessibility for individuals with disabilities to share in the fun using pushchairs.
As a parent to a non-ambulatory son with Cerebral Palsy, Brian understands the challenges parents of individuals with special needs face in getting their children involved in everyday experiences.
“As a runner, I was always looking for ways to run with my son,” he reminisces of 15-year-old Jack’s toddler stroller years.
Five years ago, during Brian’s involvement in races around Memphis, he noticed a friend and fellow runner completing runs while pushing an adult with special needs in a chair.
It planted the seed in Brian to try pushing his son in a run for the ultimate family duo.
“As a parent of a child with special needs, we want our kids to be involved like normal children.
We want our children to get out and experience life as much as possible like a typical person would, with all the joys.”
With some community help in lending pushchairs, Brian was able to assemble a modest team of five push carts for five individuals with special needs in a highly successful 5k race.
Now in its first full year of operation, the Rolling Runners Facebook group aims for two to three events annually with its 120 members of parents and willing volunteer runners.
Brian and his wife are deeply involved in the special needs community, regularly participating in the annual Joy Prom and the Field of Friends baseball team, to name a few.
“The cool thing about this is seeing how the individuals with special needs in general just love it, being in a race atmosphere with the crowd cheering them.”
Just as rewarding is the elation parents feel when watching their children light up and enjoy these activities.“It adds a lot of value for parents when a child can experience that.”
The volunteer runners also benefit by being a part of something truly special in which they play an active role. Pushing 100-plus pounds while running a 5k is no easy feat and a tremendous physical challenge.
“Often, the runners are asking when the next race is because they just love it so much.”
While Rolling Runners hopes to continue expanding in participants with special needs, able-bodied pusher runners, and networking parents, their largest hurdle remains securing more pushchairs, which cost between 2,000 to 10,000 per unit.
Notwithstanding, Brian’s outlook is bright, and he hopes for the group to reach a 10 runner/10 rider-sized participating group in the near future.
To learn more or to get involved, email: Bmatochik@yahoo.com.
To help fund a pushchair: Gofund.me/1f795bfd
By Shlomit Ovadia
Photo by Tindall Stephens