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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Super Seizure Boy

Years ago, at the Bolder Boulder, I witnessed something remarkable. As a non-runner, I was there to support someone for whom, like thousands of others, the event had become an annual rite of spring.

Some took the event seriously, running to improve last year’s time, or just to have a strong finish. Others ran in costume, a gorilla here and an angel there, making the event more fun and visually exciting for we spectators.

Most, however were among those I could identify best. They began the race feeling strong, putting one foot confidently in front of the other in an energetic rhythm.

Slowly but surely though, each step became less confident and more deliberate. Eventually, the slogging set in, the slow and painful albeit still-positive struggle toward that elusive finish line.

Looking back on a few of my own motivated years when I ran in age-group triathlon events, I recognized slogging as the place where running becomes more mental than physical.

Suddenly, among this seemingly endless sea of humanity trudging by, a little boy appeared. He ran next to his mom, and they both kept a pretty sprightly pace. Clearly, they were truly happy to be there.

By my estimate, the boy was about eleven or twelve, about the same age when I had my first serious knock-down, drag-out seizure.

What first caught my eye about this boy though was the blue t-shirt and yellow cape he wore. On his t-shirt were the handwritten words “Super Seizure Boy”. On his improvised cape, a shielded “S” was sketched, a la Superman’s, with a Sharpie marker.

Unlike the throng around them, the boy and his mom weren't slogging at all, but still running energetically. Just the image of it makes me smile now, as I write this.

My mind was flooded with several thoughts at once: This little guy obviously has some wonderful support in his life, and any stigma about having seizures simply didn't exist for him.

Further, the boy also seemed empowered to run stronger, as was his mom. They were a happy and justifiably proud unit, one that seizures might affect, but never overcome. The Bolder Boulder was merely a reflection of what and how they did everything; together.

It was the exact culture I wish I'd had when I was his age, instead of the opposite, shaming response and ever present need to hide the fact behind closed doors.

The sight of this boy, though, didn't elicit any feelings of envy from me, but of exuberance. Through the crowd lining the sidewalk, I kept up with them as long as possible, cheering them on as I went.

So did many others who realized we were witnessing something special.

Afterward, I reflected on my happiness to know that another person - just a kid - was not condemned to a lonely existence within his family. Rather, he was the embodiment of support, and it reflected well on his mother running next to him.

Super Seizure Boy was not pushed aside, even vilified by his disability, but empowered. He literally took in stride an event which caused so many grownups around him such physical suffering. That day, he empowered us with a lesson in determination and resilience.

Now, years later, I imagine the boy as he might be in high school: A model of confidence and tolerance toward everyone no matter their ability - or disability. That's something which our world today can never have too much.

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