Good Sports: Team Wagoner

A Fresno father-and-son duo is training to run in this month's Boston Marathon, but this isn't your average running family.
April 4, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
For Fresno's Jim Wagoner, it's just part of being a dad. But for everyone else watching him and his 18-year-old son Colby, it's nothing short of inspiring.

"I have a hard time identifying with somebody else being inspired by me," Jim Wagoner said. "I'm just a dad trying to do what I can for my son. And if they get some inspiration from that, that's great, because that's what all dads should be doing."

Colby was born with learning disabilities, hypotonia, autism, and cannot talk. But Jim can feel his 6'3", 240 pound son's pure joy when he's outdoors, running with his dad. It doesn't matter that he's 65 years old, or that he's pushing more than double his weight.

"I don't consider it remarkable at all," Wagoner said. "I've always run with my kids and my family. That's just one of the things we do. When Colby came along, I started pushing him. And he was never able to run so I just never stopped. And so I just continued to push him and he really enjoys it so that's why we do it."

Later this month, Team Wagoner is taking on its toughest challenge to date: the 118th Boston Marathon. Jim was able to qualify as a charity runner; he and Colby will be representing the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.

"It gets families that suddenly are kind of surprised they have a child with disabilities and gets them pointed in the right direction and connects them," Wagoner explained. "It gives them courage to kind of go out there in the right direction."

The Wagoners can't wait to get out on the Boston course, despite its tough challenges.

"I may not be able to make Heartbreak Hill running the whole way," Wagoner confessed. "That's the one thing I'm still working on and that's what I'm doing out here at Woodward Park."

All that hard work to let Colby do what he does best: enjoy life with his dad right behind him and supporters all around him.

"He likes being around people and he gets a kick out of it," Wagoner said. "And that's, I'm told very unusual for kids with autism. A lot of autistic kids are very distant. Colby just likes being around people. He gets a big kick out of it. He likes people to engage him."

And Dad's reward after 26.2 miles of blood, sweat, and tears?

"I get what I call hippo kisses," Wagoner said with a smile. "I'll get three or four of those on a day we go on a race when I usually don't get them at all. That's his way of kind of saying thanks Dad."

The first of many people sure to thank the Wagoners for touching their lives.


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