Little Runners

by Cordelia Lee

At the end of a recent run, an orange flag was raised proudly, to signify strength, hope and inclusivity for their children. In the centre of the flag, was an image of a smiling turtle with a headband and sneakers pushing a stroller.Despite everything they had gone through as a family, they showed that they can overcome their life challenges.

This running activity proved to them, they are strong and capable enough.

When I think of runners, I could not help remembering the slow-motion beach run scene from Chariots of Fire. It was a 1981 movie, based on a true story of two British athletes who overcame the odds to win the Olympic gold in 1924.

This film’s instrumental theme sometimes play in my mind whenever I continue my 5km pace onto the tarred road towards the finishing line.

Could I imagine in my 50s I would join 5km runs? I joined due to my enthusiastic six-year-old son, Patrick, whose ambition is bigger than his size; to one day conquer 10km and 21km runs.

December 2, 2023 was a turning point. During the KLSCCCI Foodie Run 2023, my son was instrumental in connecting us with Izzat, the founder of “Little Fighter Runners”. Midway during the run, Patrick noticed that Izzat was pushing a stroller with his daughter in it.

Patrick rushed towards them, out of concern the stroller’s tyre may become loose. In one of the previous runs, he had helped a mother by returning her stroller’s loose tyre when it rolled onto the road.

After explaining Patrick’s motivation, we discovered we had something in common; our children have special medical needs. His seven-year-old daughter had a heart transplant. My son is a liver transplant survivor.

Izzat founded “Little Fighter Runners” in the beginning of 2022. His daughter is the inspiration to join runs together. Izzat made the decision to jog with his daughter once her heart defect surgery at IJN was completed. Izzat’s daughter is diagnosed with 18p deletion Syndrome, heart defect complications, asplenia and mild autism.

Izzat saw that his daughter was doing better in his family’s physical activities. Motivated by these outcomes, he extended an invitation to other families whose children are also managing with health issues to join him on these runs.

As a result of participating in these runs, the parents reported that their children were becoming happier, positive, and less prone to tantrums.

Izzat was motivated by this to start a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) in order to assist other families that are similar to his own.

To provide therapeutic activities, like running, to parents of children with special needs. Izzat also wishes to reduce prejudice and ignorance in their communities by raising awareness and educating others about them. Izzat wishes to demonstrate that they can participate in runs and other activities just like other typical families.

My son, Patrick, is a member of “Little Fighter Runners”. We all have something in common as parents, as we ran together in 5 km and most recently, 6 km night run. The common runner tends to do it, to prove to themselves they can do it.

We, the parents of “Little Fighter Runners”, are doing this for our children. To let our children know, despite overwhelming obstacles, they can still dream and have hopes in their hearts. That life is more than just hospital stays and follow-up consultations from doctors, which may require lifetime care.

In spite of everything, we can still feel alive. We will open doors for our children with special needs, showing them that everything is possible if they set their minds to it.

Thus, “Little Fighter Runners”, never give up and always aim high. Keep running. We’ll be there to support you every step of the way.

If you are interested to know and understand more of “Persatuan Pelari Anak Luar Biasa” or “Little Fighter Runners” or you wish to sponsor their runs, you can message them through their Facebook.