On Sunday, during the Marine Corps Marathon in our nation’s capital, Seth Allen, who has Cerebral Palsy and Autism, will not recognize the White House, and he doesn’t have a strong opinion about who currently occupies it. When we roll by the US Capitol, Seth will not think of his Representative or his Senator from Oklahoma. The Supreme Court will be just another large building. When we pass by the monuments on the National Mall, Seth may not recognize them or understand who or what they memorialize. When we pass by the WWII and Vietnam Memorials, and when we start and finish near Arlington Cemetery, Seth will not grasp the significance.
For Seth, it will be just another race with Ainsley’s Angels, one that he participates in every month. I am sure he will notice that the course is much longer and has more runners; however, for Seth, the joy he experiences may be no greater than the joy he receives from participating in a small local 5k.
So, why spend all the money? Why travel all the way to Washington DC from Roland, Oklahoma? Why roll 26.2 miles?
Seth’s father George perhaps answered these questions best when he said: “Because this land is his land too.”
Seth’s inclusion with over 30 other Athlete Riders with Ainsley’s Angels in what is called “the People’s Marathon” powerfully proclaims the words inscribed in the granite of the Jefferson Memorial:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The inclusion of Ainsley’s Angels in the Marine Corps Marathon declares to the occupant of the White House, to each lawmaker at the Capitol, to the judges seated on the Supreme Court, and to the entire nation: “Regardless of ability, difficulties, individual differences, unique characteristics, and different needs, ALL are created equal. ALL have a right to live. ALL have a right to love. ALL are worthy to be free. All are worthy of respect. ALL deserve to be happy. ALL deserve to be included.”
And if we continue to vote for this principle in two weeks, Seth’s smile at the finish line near the sacred grave markers of Arlington will reveal to the world that those who sacrificed their lives for this nation did not do so in vain.
And this will certainly not be “just another race.”