By Steve Germani
ADEC staff

Those who primarily work alone will never become all they could become if they were working with others. Working with others makes us much more than we could ever become alone.– John Wooden

I finally finished the Chicago Marathon! More importantly, ADEC placed 27 clients in community employment during a six-month stretch. I’ll always be proud of these achievements, and I hope ADEC’s team of employment specialists feels the same way.

The Chicago Marathon is an amazing event. In fact, it’s probably an understatement to simply refer to it as “amazing.” Everything about the event is grand. 45,000 participants. 1.8 million spectators. Plus, the city of Chicago is always teeming with people, even when it’s not hosting a world class event. It’s truly a sea of people as far as the eye can see in every direction.

Two things stood out to me the day of marathon; first, there are spectators lining all 26.2 miles of the marathon course. Second, every charitable cause imaginable was being supported and represented by a participant in the Chicago Marathon. Charities focused on cancer research, juvenile diabetes, homeless shelters, animal welfare, autism, and dozens more were all being supported. Bottom line; there were literally millions of people cheering on the participants and dozens of thousands of people using their participation as a way to support their favorite charity. It is inspiring to see that much support and genuine concern for the welfare of others in one location. Truly… amazing.

There were many times during my last nine or ten miles when I wanted nothing more than to sit down and take a rest. I know it sounds cliché, but thinking of ADEC’s employment services staff and seeing all the people lining the streets to cheer on the participants are truly what kept me going. It’s yet another reminder that it’s impossible to achieve anything completely alone. The support I received and the commitment I made to ADEC were the fuel I needed to keep me going.

Training for, and running this marathon taught me so many lessons. Far too many lessons to spend any time elaborating on in any blog post. It was an experience I will always remember. And it has deepened my appreciation for the perseverance, resiliency and mental toughness of adults with a disability who are overcoming obstacles every single day to achieve their goal of securing paid employment in the community. The effort and work I put into running this marathon pales in comparison to the effort and work so many people with disabilities put into plugging into a world that isn’t always taking their circumstances and needs into consideration.

One last note: Not only could I not have finished this marathon without our ADEC team, but we could not have achieved our goal of securing employment in the community for 26 people if not for the generous business community in Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties. Thank you to all the businesses who participated by sponsoring a mile!