CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Vince Sheehan was never a runner. But that changed about a decade ago. That's about the time his future running partner, his son Ryan, entered the picture.
"Honestly, I don't know if I'd even be running if it weren't for him," Vince Sheehan said.
Ryan was born with Down's Syndrome.
The Sheehans attended a small 5k run soon after Ryan's birth. They were not expecting a life-changing experience, but that's exactly what happened.
"We had great support from family and friends," Vince said. "We walked it that day. I attempted to run half of the 5k back that day. I was a little out of shape so that kind of got me going."
While Ryan now puts on running shoes and the same t-shirt as his dad, his son takes part in his own way.
Ryan rides in a customized chariot the Team Hoyt program loaned to the Sheehans by United Athletics.
While dad pushes, Ryan schmoozes.
"Everybody loves him. His personality is through the roof and everybody cheers him on as we're running," Vince said. "He'll cheer me on, tell me I'm doing a good job. He'll give me thumbs up, keep cheering me on and tell me to go further."
The Sheehans trained and put in several miles to prepare for last fall's Richmond Marathon, an event Vince documented with his GoPro.
The pair gained thousands of new fans along the way.
"I enjoy the excitement and the smile on his face the entire time and especially when we cross the finish line. I know other people would enjoy it the same," he said.
The two will run the Monument Avenue 10k this year as well, but Vince said it's not the activity, but the time together with his son that's important.
"You don't have to be a marathoner. You don't have to be setting records running. If you want to walk it, walk it," he said. "Just having people see that he can live a normal life like any other kid. We include him in everything."
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