Training is winding down, and it’s almost show time for Kyle Hankins and his staff, Chacriyar (Yar) Chhuon, who will make ADEC history Oct. 11 when they run the Chicago Marathon.
Well, Yar will run it. Kyle gets to ride, but he has almost as tough a job as Yar – keeping their spirits and energy up so they make it all 26.2 miles to the finish.
“I know I can do it,” Kyle says, confidently, smiling at the prospect.
Yar and Kyle will be making marathon history, too, as this is the first year duo teams have been allowed to participate. A duo team is defined as two people, one in a wheelchair and one pushing, competing as a unit. Yar and Kyle fit the criteria as they’ve been working as a unit for about seven years.
Kyle was Yar’s first client when Yar joined ADEC’s Supported Living staff in 2008. The two share a bond, so when Kyle asked Yar back in March if they could do a marathon together, Yar answered yes without even hesitating. Getting from that moment all the way to the marathon became more of a journey than Yar anticipated.
First came the challenge of getting registered, then purchasing a racing wheelchair and all the gear. Tom Nickel, a member of ADEC’s Board of Directors and owner of Star Tire and Brake, stepped up as local sponsor, footing the bill for the wheelchair and related apparel.
Fitting training time in between illnesses (Kyle’s), injuries (Yar’s) and vacations (Kyle’s) added to the challenge.
The two also had to make time for the media. The Elkhart Truth is following the story, and as news spread virally through social media, it caught the attention of a marketing agency representing Kleenex. Kleenex plans to tell Kyle and Yar’s “inspirational story” in one of its Kleenex moment videos.
“At first I worried,” Yar said. “I wondered, ‘Am I going to be able to push Kyle all the way? Am I going to have to stop and walk with him? Will we be in the way of others?’ I don’t want to disappoint anyone.”
As the momentum built, so did his confidence.
“We’re going to finish, there’s not a question,” Yar told a reporter from TheTruth. “If I gotta walk to the end, we’re going to do it.”
Want to cheer on Yar and Kyle?
The best way to get to the marathon on Oct. 11 is on the South Shore. The commuter train leaves the South Bend Airport at 7:45 a.m., arriving at Millenium Station at about 9:17.
Yar and Kyle begin their run at 7:30 a.m. and expect to be on the course at least six hours. We will have checkpoints planned for spotting and cheering them on. Watch your email for more information or email [email protected] to be included in any plans.