Our 164th AWB grant is in memory of the very awesome, very loving, and very courageous 14-year-old, Mary McAuley of Tennessee. Daughter of Tommy and Rachel McAuley, Mary lived with Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, and Scoliosis, and spent her life in a wheelchair, unable to speak and eat on her own. But that didn’t stop her from becoming a triathlete at age 5. Mary’s parents were keen on having Mary live her life to its absolute fullest, and not ever letting her feel left out, left behind, or be treated differently than her two brothers. So what did they do? They started the nonprofit T.E.A.M. McAuley, an organization that provides families of special needs children with special equipment for races.
T.E.A.M McAuley has five major goals: Raise awareness of people with disabilities and focus on their “abilities” rather than their disabilities; Send a message to anyone with special needs that from their disability can come freedom; Assist others in obtaining resources for special equipment needed to participate in sporting events; Raise awareness of sporting events that can be accessed by individuals of all ages and disabilities; and Promote and demonstrate inclusion.
Mary was right by her father, Tommy’s, side in many triathlons he competed in. For the swimming leg? Tommy would harness a special raft to his waist. The biking leg? Mary was attached in a special bike carriage. The running leg? Tommy would push her in a stroller. When there’s a will, there’s a way. Everyone always knew when Tommy and Mary would cross the finish line because the crowd would erupt in a thunderous cheer. As for Mary, she’d be smiling from ear to ear.
Our AWB grant will help children and adults receive need assistance for walking, running, biking or swimming.
Thank you, Mary for your inspiration, and thank you to the McAuley family for your commitment to empowering, and raising awareness of individuals with disabilities.