News Article Details

Angels helping local girl complete half-marathon

Columbus Telegram - 10/29/2017

Oct. 28--COLUMBUS -- Angels will be helping Kylie Yates this weekend.

The teenager will take part in her first half-marathon Sunday in Lincoln and she won't be alone during the 13.2-mile Good Life Halfsy.

Three runners will be behind her to push Kylie in a special buggy.

Kylie, who has cerebral palsy and hasn't taken a single step on her own, will get the opportunity to experience a half-marathon thanks to Ainsley's Angels of America, a nonprofit group that provides endurance race opportunities for those with special needs.

Tyson Tilton, an ambassador for Ainsley's Angels in central Nebraska, will be one of the runners with Kylie on Sunday.

Kylie, a 15-year-old student at Columbus High School, is the first marathon rider he will run a race with since getting involved with the organization about a month ago. He said Ainsley's Angels is all about creating a sense of belonging.

"We like to use the word inclusion in everything we do to allow the kids, young adults and those of any age with special needs to be able to enter races just like we can," said Tilton, of York.

That's why Pam Yates wanted her daughter to be part of the effort. She said it can be difficult to find activities for Kylie.

"She is excluded in things. In middle school, when they had dances, she was never invited. She's not invited to go over to a friend's house. She's not invited to go to movies with a friend or sleepovers. None of the typical teenage things," Pam said.

Kylie loves to ride horses and has taken part in equestrian events through Special Olympics. She also enjoys having her nails painted by younger sister Therese, coloring, putting together puzzles and playing on the trampoline.

Cerebral palsy is a form of paralysis caused by abnormal brain development that affects body movement. For Kylie, who also has epilepsy, her right arm and legs are mainly affected. She is also nonverbal.

"But when she smiles it brightens your whole day," Pam said.

Her daughter has been in other races, like the local We Can Run, Walk and Roll event, and Pam said Kylie loves being included.

Pam, her husband Roger and Therese will be in Lincoln to watch Kylie as she makes her way to the finish line thanks to Ainsley's Angels.

The organization started in Virginia in 2012 and has spread across the country ever since. In addition to pairing runners with riders for races, those involved also work to promote awareness for the people they help.

There wasn't an ambassador for this area until Tilton stepped up.

He said he wants more people to be volunteer runners and more individuals to sign up as athlete riders. That can be done by going to ainsleysangels.org.

Tilton said he is looking forward to being with Kylie for the race and believes he can gain just as much from the experience as she can.

"It's something that you might not think is that big of a deal until you do it and realize it's going to change the life of your rider and also your life," he said.

The real joy is seeing the smiles it brings to people's faces.

"You don't get an award for doing it. You don't get paid for doing it. We do it because we love being able to spend time with the special-needs community and being able to show that just because they aren't able to do something doesn't mean we can't help them do it," Tilton said.

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(c)2017 the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.)

Visit the Columbus Telegram (Columbus, Neb.) at www.columbustelegram.com

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