For Abel Alejandrino, running is about more than just himself. Running is about inspiring his daughter, Ava, who checks his phone when he walks in the door to see if he’s accumulating his miles.
Ava was diagnosed with nemaline myopathy at the age of five, a disorder similar to muscular dystrophy that causes weak muscles and thread-like muscle fibers. A year ago, Abel began running in honor of her and to raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. He pledged to accumulate 100 miles every month, run an ultra-marathon and now, he is running Reebok Ragnar So Cal, not only in her name, but while holding a giant cutout of her face on each of his legs.
“I started a campaign to run for her,” Abel said. “I was like I’m going to do this and show that you can push yourself and you can keep fighting no matter what.”
And, as Abel started to add more and more miles to his training plan, Ava began running too.
“This year’s campaign started with her running a one-mile race,” he said. “When I started doing this campaign last year, she could barely run a block.”
So, Abel continues to push himself to inspire her. At Ragnar So Cal, his goal is to run, not only his three legs, but an additional leg with each of his teammates. All while holding the giant cutout head.
“Ultimately, all of this means more to me if it helps her,” he said. “If she feels that she can be more independent and she can go out there and not feel different. I want to bring awareness to muscular dystrophy, I want to keep running so that they can find cures and work on development.”
Plus, Ava has come up with some of her own goals. After completing the mile at the beginning of the year, her next goal is to run the Disney kid’s half-mile and run even faster.
“Running for her means she can do things like a normal kid,” Abel said. “A lot of the things she feels like she can’t do everything that other kids can do. Before, I would run and her brothers would run and she would just sit and watch. Now, she wants to be a part of it. I think it empowers her very much. It empowers her that she can do everything that everyone else can do. She can exceed in everything she wants to do.”
For Abel, Ragnar is important because he wants to show Ava that he’s not the only one behind her. She has a whole team.
“It gives her that excitement that people are believing in her.”
To find out more about Ava’s Crew and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, see Abel’s fundraising page here.