In just a few short weeks, two Summit County residents are going to show us that our community should never be divided based on stereotypes or abilities. Their strength, determination and friendship will empower thousands—most likely, including you. So who is this amazing duo? They’re simply kids being kids!
On July 27, 2014 you’ll have the opportunity to witness history. Best friends, Ethan and Rachel, will participate as a push-chair team in the 11 to 14 age division at the Cleveland Triathlon. Ethan, born with Cerebral Palsy and Autism, will race across downtown and through Lake Erie with the assistance of his closest companion, Rachel.
At Summit DD, our mission is to provide the support needed for people with developmental disabilities to live a good life. But we can’t achieve our mission alone. We need the support of our great community to succeed. Together, Ethan and Rachel are knocking down barriers, uniting our society and showing everyone what true friendship is—all while only just embarking on their teenage years!
“I think Ethan is just like everyone else. He has some things that are different, but everybody’s different. Nobody’s exactly alike,” Rachel stated.
In elementary school, Ethan and Rachel’s inseparable bond challenged the perceptions of fellow classmates—and today, over 40 students are training to participate with Team Ethan on race day. This year’s Cleveland Triathlon isn’t the only time they’ve brought other kids together. Since 2012, they’ve coordinated annual fun runs that have raised over $8,000 for United Cerebral Palsy, Ethan’s therapy provider.
The power of their journey also reaches outside of their school. They’ve gained support from many local organizations and community members. The Tallmadge Lion’s Club donated a brand new race bike and trailer, Ritchie’s Sporting Goods helped with triathlon gear, and several community members coordinated a Zumba-thon that raised over $1,200 toward race equipment.
“I’ve been sincerely overwhelmed with the response of the school and the community. Everyone wants to help and be involved, and their treatment to Ethan is that he’s just one of the kids. It’s truly amazing,” shared Ethan’s mother, Sarah.
“I just like to see that she’s his friend. And if it grows and causes others to be better, then that’s great. But if all the spotlights went away and nobody ever acknowledged this again, Rachel would do the same thing. And that’s what matters,” Rachel’s mother Kelly proudly remarked.
The efforts of Team Ethan speak louder than words. Summit DD is honored to follow their journey of inclusion and accomplishment. Join us on Facebook and Twitter from now through race day to help spread this amazing message—together we accomplish.