The Story Behind Michael Carrying Michael Through A Spartan Race

The Background

This story started about 3 years ago. Michael Angel’s attendant called me one afternoon and wanted to set up an appointment with me for personal training. That is all I knew. I was wondering who this person was who had a personal attendant. I still chuckle sometimes at my reaction. Michael and I met and we clicked right away. At first Rebecca, his attendant had to translate everything Michael said, the reason being: his cerebral palsy, a permanent condition from birth on that affects movement, coordination, speech, etc. Behind the man in the wheel chair was a keen intellect and a determination that I would come to love and honor in the years to come.

I knew Michael and I would get along just great, when after the first training session he responded to me on mentioning that he might be a little bit sore with: “I won’t be able to walk!” I died laughing. He had never walked a step alone and he was able to laugh at it, laugh at a situation that others might despair facing. We soon found out that the organizations helping people with conditions like Michael only allow him a budget that would let him train for 2 1/2 months a year. I decided at that point to volunteer my time for the rest of the year. Michael would cover a training session a week and I would donate two more.

During the next two years we accomplished a lot. Michael got stronger, faster, more mobile. He started walking on a treadmill with me holding him or we would walk outside, me supporting him. We decided to get a walker that would provide support to have him move independently. The sales rep never came through, we are still waiting.

The Idea

Trying on the modified back pack for the first time

Trying on the modified back pack for the first time

Beginning of this year I saw a video of the “Wounded Warrior Project” doing a Spartan Race with amputees. I was thinking how awesome it was and it made click. I wanted to do something like this for Michael if he was up for it. He was already a Spartan at heart. Each day he faced adversity ranging from simple daily tasks (simple for us) to people thinking that he was mentally slow and treating him differently. He took it *in stride* and persevered. Without hesitation he signed up.

We contacted a couple of organizations to figure out how to carry him without success. I finally went to a local recruitment office for the Marines. They were great and suggested for me to get a military Molly backpack. I contacted a seamstress in my building and she volunteered her time to alter the backpack to fit his needs. While she was working on that we started training.

The Training

Michael worked 3 hours Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on getting stronger, more mobile and flexible. We agreed that in order to do the Spartan Race he had to train like a Spartan. He worked hard each time. Sometimes he was so tired he fell asleep on my studio floor during a break. He pulled, pushed, and shoved. It was amazing and he has the respect of everyone at our little place.

My personal training consisted of lifting 4 days a week, running 2 days a week and carrying a backpack loaded with 120 lbs 2 days a week. The first time I had the weight on my back I was only able to walk for 10 min. I had covered 0.3 miles on asphalt. Doubts started to creep up but I refused to give up, I was going to make this happen for Michael. I got better at it and the first time I walked 2.75 miles with the backpack I knew we had a fighting chance. Still, it was all on asphalt. My commitments as a business owner and

Loaded up and ready to roll

Loaded up and ready to roll

a father made it difficult for me to spend hours offroad.

Finally mid October we started testing the newly modified backpack. We learned valuable lessons. The strap through the legs pushed against his groin and was agonizing. His weight pulling backwards so much lifted the support off my back and I had to brace like crazy to stabilize him. Michael’s back got rubbed raw by the frame of the backpack. We adjusted and modified. He started wearing a cup (would not want to hurt the jewels :P) and strapped me down with an additional leather belt around the center.

Two weeks before the race I hurt my shoulder, I did not tell Michael at the time, I did not want to admit it to myself. But in the week of the race it was pretty obvious that I had pulled something that could prevent us from finishing the race aside from me not being strong enough to carry him.

Race Day

Michael is able to handle most things in his life by himself, clothing, bathroom, eating, brushing teeth. It just takes him longer. He was not happy when I told him he had to be there 2 hours prior to the race, lol. I had bought some tactical gear, knee pads, military pants, military boots, tactical gloves and felt kind of silly walking up to the race. Turns out both our choices in clothing were perfect.

We were ready, excited and eager to give this a shot (I would lie if I said there were no trepidations!).11707401_982387468474428_7960956824011255869_n

We waited as long as we could before I put him on my back. Then it was time. We lined up at the START line and people were supportive from the start. It was amazing. We were “high-fived”, supported and encouraged.

Then “shit” got real. Off we went. One of my biggest concerns was the water. The belt secured Michael better to me but it was not a fast clip. If I slipped and we went under there was the potential for drowning. One of my personal trainers working for me, Kim,  had decided on short notice to be our support. She ran alongside in case we had an emergency, or needed anything. She was absolutely amazing and does not take enough credit (Haha, you cannot make me take back these written words because you won’t get to seem them until they are published :D). We did better than I thought on the slippery terrain, the military boots coming in handy. The goal was to have Michael participate as much as he could himself. On walls we stopped and asked other Spartans to help us. The support brought tears to my eyes. We had all the help we could have wished for. Later in the race my shoulder started to act up. Michael who had chosen to wear a cup to distribute the pressure to the groin started feeling the impact of the jostling. His back started to hurt from the scoliosis. We took short mini breaks and then continued. We were going to do this and we loved it (mostly, haha). At some point I told Michael to enjoy the scenery: trees to the left, trees to the right, and guess what some amazing trees coming up…It kept the mood light since I am known for being notoriously bad at jokes which kind of made it funnier12241412_982387661807742_1204596451310345323_n.

We finally came up to the javelin throw. I had a good handle on it but stood on the cord to rope it back in, it fell short. I was exhausted. We had just done the barbed wire
and people helped with the walls. I said *f* it (sorry for my potty mouth), and did my burpees ignoring my shoulder. I hope no client is reading this or I am going get yelled at :-).

We came up to the slip wall with the rope. There is a video coursing around on Facebook. As we approached it I turned sideways to Michael and told him that I was not sure I was going to make it with him. He said okay. Then as I approached it we heard the crowd. They were cheering for us, for Michael and me. It was amazing and I gathered my last strength to make it over the wall. I am not quite sure how I made that. I just remember Michael and the crowd cheering and that is what pushed me over.  Once upon the other side we had the multi rig ahead. There was no way I was going to be able to do that with Michael on my back. With him waiting for me I tried…and failed. I tried again and…failed again. I was turning back to do burpees when a guy came up. “Jump up” he told me and I did. “You carried Michael the whole race, I can carry you through this!” and he did. It was amazing and I am so grateful. I got Michael and together we did it, we finished our Spartan Race.


After I finished I realized one thing. I needed this for myself as much as I had wanted to do it for Michael. I have had some rough times in the last year and seeing how we were able to inspire

Could not have done it without Rebecca and Kim

Could not have done it without Rebecca and Kim

others but also how others were willing to help, encourage and support us just gave me something that I needed. I might have carried Michael but in some ways Michael carried me. The same is true for all the Spartans surrounding us. This is one of the most beautiful things I have been allowed to experience so far. This is a big #AROO and Thank You to my fellow Spartans, to the Military, to all people who serve others. You make this world a better place.

What people on Facebook have to say:


  • Jennie Sioloa

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    You both are truly amazing. I totally agree with you. When you start off your doing it for some. During and towards the finish of the race you learn it’s mostly for yourself. Your mind tends to wonder and struggles come to play. Michael has inspired you and in return he has given you that true feeling of being Alive. Thank you for sharing this I have been asking about the story behind it but no one really knew. Blessings to the both of you!!! AROO!!

  • Jessica Taylor

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    You are amazing, husband-of-mine! I am in awe of you–your compassion, your courage and your determination!

  • Cathy Bedford

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    I was not at the race but have seen the pictures circulating an want to thank you. You are such an inspiration and are both so amazing. Thank you for sharing this story of hope an strength.

  • Taryn Kemp

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    I gave you guys daps Saturday and it humbles my heart that you two overcome anything that life hands you. I volunteered my time helping those who were less fortunate to afford personal training and massage. You have inspired me and I am so proud of your dedication !!! Aroo!!!

  • Ashley Bradley

    Reply Reply November 18, 2015

    I was there with my BF rooting him on. The first time I saw the 2 of you it took my breath. I stood there frozen as I watched y’all get Michael over the inverted wall. The tears started as you were putting him back on your back to go to the ropes. It was amazing to see!! I was one of the one cheering you both on every time I saw y’all. Congratulations on finishing the Spartan!!!

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