My Team Triumph running RBR with those who can’t

River Bank Run

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Shortly after the Amway River Bank Run 25K steps off, a special group will grace the start line.

My Team Triumph’s first River Bank Run was in 2009. The organization was formed after co-founder Terence Reuben asked a simple question: “Why can we not include someone that is differently abled to participate in events that we just take for granted when we’re out there?”

My Team Triumph is made up of captains and “angels.” The captains are differently abled and are pushed by their team of angels.

“Where they are unable to go out there and race on their own, we create race opportunities for those individuals. These are usually people that are confined to wheelchairs or are able to be mobile but are very limited,” Reuben said.

In their first River Bank Run, the organization had four captains and a dozen angels. This year, they will have 20 captains and 62 angels.

>>Inside Complete coverage of the Amway River Bank Run

“When these captains cross that finish line, that facial expression — the smiles that you see even on some of the most blank faces at the start — you can definitely see that emotion that hits that to a degree, that we again take for granted. That is what it is all about for me,” said Reuben.

Another emotional layer will be added this year: two captain strollers will be empty.

“We had two captains pass away in the past few months actually,” Reuben said.

Those pushing the strollers will be bearing the names of the now guardian angels: Jonathan Peavey and Scott Bylsma.

Peavey was on the first River Bank Run with My Team Triumph in 2009. He died in January.

“If you talk about a miracle kid, he was given one week to live and he lived for 36 years. When he joined us 10 years ago, his parents didn’t even know what he could do and be a part of,” Reuben said.

Bylsma, a former Grand Rapids Police Department officer, ran as an angel in 2016, was diagnosed with ALS and became a captain last year. He died a month before this year’s race.

“Scott, he was just a beautiful person — always the kindest man with the biggest heart,” said Reuben.

As My Team Triumph starts off Saturday morning, they will form two lines. The empty strollers will come up the middle and they will take the lead as the team runs in a “flying V” to honor their fallen friends.

“Our goal again is not to be saddened about it but to celebrate our captains’ lives and the things they did to be a part of all the events we were a part of as well,” Reuben said.

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