Home Bookstore Galway runner recounts his family’s cross-country journey in ‘Better Together’ – The Daily Gazette

Galway runner recounts his family’s cross-country journey in ‘Better Together’ – The Daily Gazette

0

As he trained on the pavement for ultramarathons and the US Olympic trials, Galway runner and physical therapist Shaun Evans thought he had big goals.

Then his son Shamus raised the bar. Shamus, who has cerebral palsy, floated the idea of ​​a trek of some 3,200 miles across the United States, with Evans running and Shamus in a moving chariot. Along the way, they donated shopping carts to children in need, in conjunction with the national non-profit Ainsley’s Angels.

“I thought I was setting big dreams for myself,” Evans remarked. “Shamus stepped in and came up with something bigger than I ever thought was humanly possible.”

Evans recounts the 2015 trip in her book “Better Together,” published this summer. The story also delves into Evans’ childhood, his years at Notre Dame College and later starting a family with his wife Nichole. Racing vignettes are woven throughout.

Schenectady’s Open Door Bookstore will host a book signing with Evans from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 25.

Evans ran track in high school, but it wasn’t until grad school that he started running long distances. He ran the Philadelphia Marathon on a whim and nearly qualified for the Boston Marathon.

“Then I started to get a little more serious about it and set my goals, not just running the Boston Marathon, which I’ve done eight times, but trying to qualify for the Olympic Trials.” , said Evans.

He came within four minutes of qualifying and for a time his racing career was sidelined by a series of injuries.

Amid all of this, Shamus was born in 2006 and a year later was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, which affects his ability to walk. During the first years of Shamus’ life, Evans took him for runs in a baby jogger. As Shamus moved past this, they switched to a Freedom Push chair, which they obtained with the help of Ainsley’s Angels. The organization provides racing wheelchairs to children who need them and promotes a sense of inclusion that many children with disabilities never experience.

“Once he got those wheels he decided he wanted to try racing me,” Evans said.

They started with Firecracker 4 in Saratoga and soon after they held their first ultramarathon, which was a six-hour closed-course timed event.

“I thought Shamus would get tired of going around in circles after a few minutes,” Evans said.

Instead, Shamus was addicted. Throughout the race, he told Evans about one of the “Harry Potter” books he was reading at the time and the father-son duo won the race, covering more than 45 miles.

While Evans was congratulating himself on the victory, Shamus, who was 7 years old at the time, thought of going much further.

He brought up the idea of ​​a summer cross-country run and Shaun and Nichole got the wheels rolling.

“We had about 18 months to train, fundraise and plan logistics. We needed every second of those 18 months,” Evans said.

Evans worked with Shamus to determine the route they would take and how many miles they would need to travel each day for it to happen in one summer. Nichole and the Evans’ youngest son, Simon, planned to follow and act as a pit crew, helping Evans stay hydrated and nourished, which was no small feat when he was burning thousands of calories a day. day.

The family also worked to raise over $100,000 and donate a rolling cart to a child in each of the states they passed through.

They started the trip by dipping Shamus’ toes in the ocean off Seattle. The first half of the trip was scenic as they racked up miles through the Cascade Mountains, the Continental Divide and Mount Rushmore.

“Then it starts turning into cornfields in Iowa. It went on for a long time,” Evans said.

As they traveled dozens of sometimes dreary miles, Shaun and Shamus found inspiration in the people they met along the way. Many knew about the family’s trip and brought them water or snacks.

“Everyone who has helped us along the way has really restored our faith in humanity,” Evans said. “There are so many good people who wanted to be a part of what we were doing.”

By the time they were done – to cap off the trip by dipping Shamus’ toes in the Atlantic Ocean – they had donated 35 rolling tanks.

Shamus wasn’t done dreaming though. Just two years later, the duo raced down the Mississippi River (about 1,700 miles), donating racing chairs and promoting the work Ainsley’s Angels are doing along the way.

With their second big trip down the books, Evans set her sights on a new challenge.

“We would meet people and say, ‘Shaun, you have to write a book about everything you’ve done,'” Evans said.

Writing had long been something Evans loved to do, so he put pen to paper a few years ago and penned “Better Together: A Memoir of Persistence, Inclusion, and a Family’s Power to Overcome.”

The chapters are short, around five or six pages, and the whole book is just over 300 pages. It was published by Mascot Books.

Shamus hopes to write a follow-up book with Evans, telling the story of other feats the family has accomplished since their cross-country run.

“It’s just a matter of finding the time to do it,” Evans said with a laugh.

For more information on the dedication visit bookstore-opendoor.com.

More from The Daily Gazette:

Categories: Life and Arts, Life and Arts, Saratoga County