Ever since junior year of high school, Cameron Judd has edged out his best friend, Mack Bawden, in every race by about a second. They’ve run high school cross country together, 5Ks, half marathons, marathons and, most recently, Reebok Ragnar Wasatch Back. Cam always crosses the line first, Mack always pushing Cam’s wheelchair from behind.
The two have been best friends since they were four years old, when Mack found out that Cam’s wheelchair was fun to hang coats on. Pretty soon, they were inseparable. Cam has cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder from birth that affects movement, muscle control, coordination and balance, and has been in a wheelchair since a young age. That didn’t stop Mack from wanting to include him in everything.
“My current goal is to help Cam do what everyone else is doing and be normal as possible,” says Mack.
This includes taking him on adventures in Utah’s National Parks, going on zip lines, occasionally playing ding-dong-ditch and pushing him at track practice.
“He’s pretty ballsy,” says Mack. “He’s like most people [in Utah]. He’s adventurous.”
In the past year, Mack started the charity, Run On, which gives running wheelchairs to students with disabilities interested in track.
“I realized how much it had an impact on me and how much it had an impact on Cam, so I wanted to help other kids have that same opportunity,” says Mack. “Run On’s purpose is to help any high school student in a wheelchair and give them the opportunity to run cross country and track.”
Though Cam is non-verbal, it doesn’t take long to understand him. His smile and excitement about running tells it all.
“He loves it,” says Mack. “He said, when he’s running, he doesn’t feel like he’s in a wheelchair anymore. That means a lot to me because I’ve put in a lot of effort and I hoped he enjoyed it. I’ve enjoyed doing it and we’re friends but he actually really enjoys running, he enjoys getting out and he enjoys being together.”
Companies can sponsor Run On wheelchairs and be featured on a banner on the chair while students compete. Teachers, administrators, parents and students can contact Mack to get involved and learn more about hosting a practice with a student who has a disability.