Believing in Joel

Believing in someone is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give them.

My husband has believed in me more than anyone else.  I think he would say the same about me.

Our son Joel is a young man who has a lot of people believing in him and encouraging him. Since he was eight years old, a huge source of others believing in Joel has been the local Champaign-Urbana Special Recreation (CUSR) people and through them, Special Olympics.  He won a gold medal in basketball skills his first year at age 8.  The announcer was in fine form…calling out Joel’s name and getting the crowd involved. (a significant number of whom were there as Joel’s fans.)

Another year, Joel was invited to play at half-time at a Bull’s game at the United Center. There was a half-full arena, encouraging and believing in the Special Olympian hoopsters’ abilities.  (It was not one of the Bull’s best years, but Scotti Pippen was there and Joel definitely remembers a high five from Scotti.)

Basketball, softball, volleyball, and power lifting have been Joel’s favorites at CUSR.  He has also won best costume at a dance.  He has bowled.  He has State competition experience and a slew of medals and photographs and more t-shirts than one could possibly wear.

This year, at age 34 and working hard to not gain more weight (even though he works at the YMCA and exericises regularly, he does love to eat), C-U Special Recreation offered a new activity….Frunners’ Club.  With University of Illinois volunteers to run with individuals and with a 5K Cupcake Run as a goal, the Frunners met twice a week to train.

Joel’s dad is a runner.  His sister has run some.  His brothers and brother-in-law all are capable, though not driven runners.  Dave’s business and my not-for-profit includes working closely with some of the famed Tarahumara runners from Copper Canyon.  In fact, Joel has even met Arnolfo Quimare, the winner of the ultra marathon race detailed in the book, Born to Run.  Joel, however, had no interest in running.

Until… Sarah believed in him.

She encouraged him to join Frunners and told him he could do it.  She joined and was there twice a week to run with her volunteer trainers.  She texted Joel to remind him to show up (not that he would have forgotten).  Most importantly, she believed that he could run a 5K.

And run it, he did.  In less than 49 minutes.  He was pretty proud of himself.  He got a cool t-shirt, a nifty winter cap, and a cupcake at the finish line.  He feels pretty good about himself.  Because Sarah believed in him.

Joel and Sarah cupcake run


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  1. Joel is so blessed to have parents and family who believe in him….and now a girlfriend! They make a cute couple. Tell him congrats on achieving his goal of running the 5K.

  2. He says he will do it next year, again. And, he says, thank you, Michelle.

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