GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., - Terence Reuben found the inspiration to help people with disabilities while training for an Ironman competition to mark his 40th birthday.
"When you run, you really get to experience the outdoors," Reuben told FOX 17 News. "Someone with a disability may never get to experience that."
Reuben, a physical therapist and the Director of Sports Medicine at Metro Health, took his ideas and collaborated with a handful of others who wanted to accomplish the same thing. In 2008, "My Team Triumph" was created.
The organization allows those with disabilities to experience events ranging from 5K races, to triathlons and full marathons. The participants are called "Captains." Using a special race stroller, they are able to compete while the volunteer athletes, dubbed "Angels", do the work in the background.
"Our original idea was just to try to make a difference, right here in West Michigan. And to kind of work with people with disabilities, so they could experience the things we take for granted."
Reuben says the thrill of being in the race and the exhilaration of crossing the finish line is an experience unlike any other for the captains.
"To see their faces, they will straighten up in their chairs, start grinning from ear to ear, and that's what I look forward to," explained Reuben. "There's very few races that I don't shed a tear at the finish line. No matter how many times I've done it."
The first year My Team Triumph saw four captains, with 20 angels. Last year, 150 captains were able to experience an event, thanks to more than 400 angels.
"We're all about celebrating ability, not feeling sorry for disability," said Reuben. "I love giving back...There's a passion that drove me to do this, and the flame is still there."
Reuben's next event with My Team Triumph will be the Bridge Run in Grand Rapids in September.
As the August Pay it Forward Person of the Month, Reuben is receiving a $500 prize.
To learn more about My Team Triumph, visit the website here.
Know someone who should be featured next month? Nominate them here.