Turning running into a team sport, this week's New Yorker is helping disabled athletes discover the benefits of exercise. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
Running is known as an individual sport, but Kat Bateman doesn't just run for herself, she runs for others. Sometimes, she's attached to them.
"It's like no feeling on earth to guide an athlete on their first run," she says. "It's just an incredible experience."
Kat leads a run in Central Park twice a week as part of her work with the nonprofit Achilles International.
The runners' gear includes a simple piece of string, a tether that allows Kat to guide runners with a range of disabilities.
"Athletes who have autism or are re-learning to walk or are re-learning to say their names correctly. You have athletes of all types of challenges and all capacities," she says. "I call it the secret service formation, which basically means that you're surrounding your athlete, if there are more than one guide, so that your athlete's protected."
The athlete is protected by a network of volunteer guides who help them become accomplished walkers and runners.
For Kat, it's not the miles or medals that keeps her going. It's the sense of community.
"I think that sometimes, that's something that's lost in running, because it's an individual sport, whereas Achilles brings running and community together," she says. "It's about the confidence they gain in every step they take. Every goal, every finish line they they cross, there is a greater sense of self."
Fifty yards or five miles, athletes like Patrick Miller and Carmelo Puccia are going the distance.
"It's really been a life-changing experience, both physically, spiritually and emotionally," Miller says. "Kat's really done a lot to build my self-confidence."
"I love to run, walk. It makes me feel good, strong," Puccia says.
So, for leading the way and making exercise accessible for all, Kat Bateman is our New Yorker of the Week.
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