Runners of all abilities take part in 44th Annual Big Bird Run

Big Bird Run Roseville 2
Posted at 2:00 PM, Nov 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-13 22:18:37-05

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (WXYZ) — Around 300 runners participated in the 44th annual Big Bird Run in Roseville on Sunday.

The race benefits local community service organizations, families and students in need.

This year, a special group of eight children joined in on the fun. They're part of a program new to the city of Detroit called Fast Feet NYC.

"This is our first season and we’re kind of just getting started. We’ve got about eight athletes this season that are of all different abilities," said Kaitlin O’Hara who is a pediatric physical therapist at Children's Hospital of Michigan.

O'Hara worked with other physical therapists and volunteers from the hospital to help the kids train over the course of eight weeks.

O'Hara says the kids used modified training techniques to build up endurance for the one mile fun run.

The Fast Feet program provides an inclusive space for kids that are typical developing, neuro-divergent and those with physical disabilities.

"With the beginning he just exploded and just wore himself out. Just the excitement that they get seeing each other just supporting each other is the best," said Aldo Vicuna Sr. who ran with his son.

Andrea Johnson stood alongside the race path watching her two sons Eli and Deon Foster cross the finish line. Johnson says she was proud to see both of them complete the race.

"I want them to learn that no matter what they think they can’t do, they can do anything. They can make anything possible," said Johnson.

O'Hara says she hopes kids of all abilities are inspired to try something they haven't before and that they have more spaces to do so.

"There’s not a lot of opportunities for individuals with different abilities to participate in typical sports teams so this is a really good opportunity for that in a relaxed environment," said O'Hara. "Just having the visibility out there and seeing that these kids are like every other kid and they want to participate just as much and everyone should be welcome."

Sunday's race marked the end of the season for the Fast Feet runners. Organizers say they are hoping to bring the program back next year with even more opportunities for runners.