by Camille Summers/Lion Staff
Charlie Miller wanted to do the 5-mile Spartan Race, a team race around Lake Lanier. It’s not easy for anyone, but especially not for someone who suffers from both Cerebral Palsy and a mitochondrial disorder.
According to CerebralPalsy.org, Cerebral Palsy is considered a neurological disorder caused by a non-progressive brain injury or malformation. Cerebral Palsy primarily affects body movement and muscle coordination.
But the Lovett wrestling team stepped in to help him out and literally support him through the race. Charlie could have picked any other trainer to help him out during the race, but he decided to pick the Lovett coaches to guide him through, which led to the help of the wrestling team.
“He could’ve picked any Cross-Fit trainer, and there were guys that looked like they could do American Ninja Warrior,” says Chris Ocana. “But Charlie decided to pick Lovett.”
A few days before the race, Charlie came and spoke in chapel. He spoke with humor and grace about his disease and challenges, moving the audience and making us laugh.
As training began, the wrestling team had to do difficult and fun drills. There were certain skills the team had to achieve to be able to carry Charlie through the race.
“Jeremiah Allen and our coach had to figure out how to work the wheelchair and move it around,” Chris says. “So, we took the wheelchair from the MAC to the Lower School and out to the trail (Cross Country Trail). Sprinting with the wheelchair, we probably dropped each other three hundred times. That was really funny.”
On October 22, the race with Charlie Miller and the Lovett wrestling team began.
“I thought there would be a disabled division and there would be more disabled people in the race,” says Rev. Allen. “There wasn’t one. We are the only ones in the race with a wheelchair. No one has ever done this in a wheelchair before.”
Charlie didn’t care. He knew that they could do it. Although it might have seemed like Mission Impossible, they knew they were going to get Charlie across.
Charlie said, “No matter what, we will cross that finish line. We will do it.”
During the race, there were rock climbing walls, nets, mud, water, and other obstacles to get through. Not only was it difficult to do alone, but the wrestling team had the challenge of carrying a person through it.
“The course was not set up for a guy in a wheelchair. He almost fell out of his wheelchair because of the roots and rocks and ups and down and slanted trails,” Rev. Allen reflected. “That was the hardest part of the race. They didn’t make this race for us; we learned we could do it. We learned we could do anything. People were running by telling them You guys are awesome. This is great, etc. It was wonderful but awful at the same time.”
Chris said that the wheelchair wasn’t all too stable, and appreciated “the fact that Charlie basically put his life in our hands.”
Ultimately, the wrestling team finished the race with Charlie Miller.
Although the race wasn’t intended for them, they knew it was possible. They did it for Charlie, and Charlie had a great time.
According to Chris, the coach talked to Charlie a couple days after the race. Coach asked him “Hey are your arms still dead?” (from the race), and Charlie’s response was “No, but surprisingly my legs don’t work.”
Through the ups and downs of the race, the wrestling team and Charlie created great memories and faced a huge challenge that they overcame.
Even though it was so difficult, Rev. Allen says, “It was like running a marathon. It’s so painful but it’s so amazing. Charlie is the kind of guy that could talk me into doing something I don’t want to do.”