Chucky Maugh wasn’t winded after completing the 26.2-mile Tri-Cities Marathon. He beamed as he showed off the medal he received for finishing the 33rd annual race in just under four hours.
Maugh, 25, isn’t able to speak as a result of severe cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Twenty-five volunteers pushed his specially made jogging stroller.
His participation in the marathon was organized by The Arc of Tri-Cities, which provides services to people with developmental disabilities.
The idea for Maugh, a Pasco resident, to race came from Megan Fort, Arc’s adult day program manager. She was training for the marathon herself, and began having second thoughts after about seven miles of a training run. But then she thought of the adulation she would get from the crowd as she ran the course and crossed the finish line.
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“It suddenly just dawned on me that Chucky’s never experienced anything like that, and never would unless someone would help him out” she said. “I wanted to share it with him. The response has just been overwhelming.”
Fort ended up scrapping her own plans to run the marathon so she could help Maugh. The Arc convinced people — from high school students to parents to police officers — to each run a mile. One person went two miles.
“Chucky enriched all of us,” said Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, who ran the first mile with Maugh. “I think he enriched the whole event.”
Hohenberg was at the chilly, overcast start/finish line at the Richland Shiloh Inn at 7 a.m. He learned that Maugh didn’t want to go at a leisurely pace.
“I found out real quick that Chucky likes speed,” he said. “He kind of encouraged us to move along when we weren’t going fast enough.”
Kennewick Police Detective John Davis, who ran the 13th mile with Maugh, has a special needs child of his own, which he said made him appreciate Maugh’s experience.
“He would look up and clap when he’d get real excited,” Davis said of Maugh.
Fort also secured donations of $2,000, enough money to buy two jogging wheelchairs. They hope to get more chairs to allow more people with disabilities to take part in future races.
“We hope to make these a fixture at local races,” she said.
The marathon would welcome more disabled participants, race director Miguel Reyna said. He helped Fort organize the mile markers where each of Maugh’s helpers would stand waiting for him.
“She had my full support in working out the logistics,” he said.
Maugh received a special “superstar marathoner” award at the ceremony at the conclusion of the event, which had 550 participants, about half of whom ran the full race. The rest were part of relay teams.
Maugh’s caretaker, Phronsie Carr, who has been with him since he was 7, made sure he was warm with two blankets and gloves for the trip that crossed the Columbia River four times on three different bridges. She credits The Arc with keeping Maugh active through the years.
“Staying at home is not good,” she said.
C.J. Gose of Kennewick was the eighth person to run with Maugh, taking him from Road 52 to Road 34 in west Pasco. He said people along the route as well as other runners were encouraging.
“For Chuck, he likes to be a part of the crowd,” Gose said. “Being with the community really made him feel a sense of normalcy.”