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By Taylor Bates
Sean Bates is my brother. He was born early at 32 weeks, and at one month old nearly lost his life in an almost SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) event. Though he survived, the near death experience resulted in hypoxic encephalopathy and severe athetoid/dystonic cerebral palsy. Confined to a wheelchair, Sean lived vicariously through myself and my sister, attending our soccer games and cheering us on as our biggest fan. When we stopped playing sports, the absence of the activity left a hole in Sean’s life. My family began to search for a sport that Sean could participate in alongside them. In this search, we stumbled upon My Team Triumph.
My Team Triumph was inspired by Rick and Dick Hoyt, authors of the book One Letter at a Time. The book inspired my family to begin running, as we discovered a way to involve Sean in the sport with us. We began to search for a chair and ultimately found the perfect fit in 2014: The Freedom Chair. During our search for a chair, we came into contact with Kim “Rooster” Rossiter, a USMC Major whose daughter, Ainsley, was diagnosed with infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy, a rare and terminal disease. During their physical therapy journey, a therapist introduced Rooster and Ainsley to running. Ainsley was in love the minute she started her first race, and Rooster realized that the opportunity was providing joy and liberty during a time when her disease was robbing her of her physical freedom. (You can learn more about Ainsley and her family at ainsleysangels.org).
We met up with Ainsley’s Angels in Lake Charles to run the 4th of July race. After that, I ran with my brother in the White Rock Half Marathon. Since then, my family has run three more half marathons, including the Cowtown Half in Fort Worth and the 2018 BMW Dallas Half Marathon—in addition to numbers 5Ks and 10Ks.
Recently, Sean invested in a Hoyt Running Chariot, which is the cream of the crop when it comes to racing chairs. This chair is going to make his racing experience even better, and our family looks forward to running alongside him in many races for years to come.