Wheelchair competitor Kurt Blankenship (Little Rock, Ark.) remarkably won the men’s push rim wheelchair division of the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side at Walt Disney World Resort on Sunday, with a time of 1:27:46. But it was more of an education for his wife and children than anything else. That’s because Blankenship’s three children – Ella, Olivia and Ryan – are wrestling with their own challenges as a result of all being born premature, and Blankenship took on the weighty challenge of a half marathon to teach them the true measure of resilience.
All three kids participated in the 200-meter run during the runDisney Kids Races on Saturday, a major triumph for all three, but especially Ryan, who has spina bifida and was not expected to ever walk or talk.
Blankenship was paralyzed from the waist down in 1999 after a near-fatal car accident. For years, he struggled to adjust to his new reality. Things changed when he and his wife, Carrie, started a family. Blankenship views his children’s medical challenges as motivation to be an inspirational example of persistence and fortitude.
In talking about Blankenship’s teachable moment, his wife, Carrie, often cites the well-known anonymous quote: “A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking because its trust is not on the branch but in its own wings.’’
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