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A Marathon on Wheels Fueled by Smiles | News

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A Marathon on Wheels Fueled by Smiles
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ALPHARETTA, Ga.--The young screams and sporadic cheers coming from the baseball field in Alpharetta sound like any other fall diamond. As you take a step closer to the North Metro Miracle League field, you're confronted with joyous chaos.

Wheelchairs, walkers, and volunteers crowd the rubberized field. Each special needs child is accompanied by a volunteer, affectionately called a buddy. Enthusiastic cheers greet Jason Thomas as he is wheeled to the plate.

"Jason is twelve years old and diagnosed with cerebral palsy and seizure disorder," his mom, Andrea, introduces him.

"He IS those other kids," his triplet-sister Erica says. "People don't see him and think he's just a kid in a wheelchair and that he can't do anything. He can do anything."

At this special baseball field five years ago, a life was changed. It wasn't Jason's.

"That day in 2005, that trip I took in 2005, it changed my life forever," Kyle Thomas says.

Kyle graduated college with a business degree and plans for financial success. On a cross-country bike ride for charity, those plans transformed because of one photograph. It shows Jason and Kyle together on the baseball field, their faces stretched wide by huge smiles. "It was just the joy in his face while he was playing baseball; I had a picture of us. It was an experience that stuck with me," Kyle remembers.

Kyle started working for PUSH America, a non-profit that raises money for programs that serve the disabled. Andrea shares their motto: "'Building the leaders of tomorrow by helping the disabled today'. Just think what a beautiful world it's going to be!"

Kyle finished marathons, triathlons, and long distance bike rides. But he just couldn't forget that smiling face. "Jason deserves that same feeling of the crowds and the finish line," he decided.

On October 31st, Kyle will push Jason 26.2 miles in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C.

"More running, more running!" Jason shouts with excitement after a recent training run.

"We ran a couple of miles today, and it felt like it was just a couple of minutes because the whole time we were just talking and laughing. It really shows how much fun he really has," Kyle says.

"Did you run fast or slow?" 11Alive's Julie Wolfe asks Jason. "Slow!" he says with joy. It sends his family and Kyle into chuckles. "Slow?!" he says with mock indignation.

If Kyle is the muscle on this team, Jason is clearly the heart. He wears the smile that changed a life and changed two strangers into marathoners. 

 

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