Running with a purpose: Ainsley’s Angels is bringing inclusion to Wichita

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Ryland Skilling is an 8-year-old boy with autism, chromosomal anomalies, and cognitive delays.

“So often he’s not a participant. He’s on the sidelines, or he’s being cared for while other things are going on,” said Roger Skilling, Ryland’s father.

Ryland Skilling is an 8-year-old boy with autism, chromosomal anomalies, and cognitive delays. He is now getting the chance to lace up with the best as he rides with Ainsley’s Angels.

They are running team that pairs abled bodied runners with those angels who have disabilities.

“Most of us we wanna go for a run, we just strap on a pair of shoes and away we go. And we know for a lot of our Ainsley’s riders that’s juts not a possibility,” said Criag McDaniel, Wichita Ainsley’s Angels Ambassador.

The team practices running once a month and increases practices before community races.

Ryland get loaded into his running chair with wheels and pushed to the finish line. During their runs you can hear words of encouragement being yelled to Ryland, “Here we go, Ryland! You’re winning again!”

His dad says you can tell the difference it makes, “He lights up when he gets in the chariot. He gets moving and he starts to laugh and that’s just something he does majority of the time he is racing.”

Angels runner, Danae Loomis, says the riders are more than angels, they are competitors.

“She will tell us how we are going to win and she laughs the whole time and she has a really good time,” she said.

The Wichita chapter for Ainsley’s Angels started in August. They now have 13 angel teams, but can always use more volunteers.

“It doesn’t matter how fast or how slow or if you have to take walk breaks in between,” said McDaniel.

As long as you can run you can make a difference.

“You get to be a part of something larger than yourself and you’re giving someone the opportunity to do what they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do,” said McDaniel.

There next race will be during the Chisholm Trail Marathon weekend. They will have teams competing in both the 5K and half-marathon.

If you are interested in joining the Ainsley’s Angels team, you can sign up by clicking here.

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