CLEVELAND — Thousands of people took to downtown Cleveland Sunday, either running in or watching the Cleveland Marathon, including one very special teacher-student duo, who made it happen despite some big challenges.
With a cape around his neck and determination in his step, 11-year-old Keontae Rogers crossed the finish line at Sunday’s 10K race at the Cleveland Marathon against all odds.
“Everybody was shouting my name out,” Rogers, a fourth grader at Charles Dickens Elementary School, said.
Rogers and his teammates in the We Run This City youth running program had been training for the 10K since January.
“Its Cleveland, we have snow, so the kids are running our hallways, they’re running in the gym. They’re doing four, five miles in the gym. That’s a lot of miles to run inside so tough running,” Rogers coach, Gretchen Tucholski, said.
But two weeks ago, his dreams were nearly shattered.
While Rogers was crossing the street on his bike, he was hit by a car and broke his ankle.
He says he had two initial reactions.
“Was my bike OK. And I wasn’t going to be able to run.”
Unfortunately, his bike was mangled and his chances of crossing that finish line weren’t looking too good either.
That’s when Tucholski stepped in.
“So the brain started to go, what can I do? What can I do? So I had a friend who had a wheelchair, so I said alright this is what I’m going to do, I’m going to push him in a wheelchair,” she said.
To make it easier for her, another coach reached out to a company which donated an athletic wheelchair for Rogers to use.
Sunday, they trekked the 6.2 miles of the race together.
“Actually I was kind of like staring at the people because it was a bunch of them looking me, so I was like hey,” Rogers said.
Tucholski pushed Rogers most of the way and during the last portion of the race, he got up and finished the rest on his crutches.
Its a moment they’ll both never forget.
“Oh, it was great and then to hear the broadcasters talk about him, saying he’s a superhero. He really is,” Tucholski said.