Twenty years ago this coming weekend, a little more than 7,000 runners toed the line for the start of the very first Walt Disney World Marathon. Fast forward to this Sunday, when more than 24,000 runners will take a 26.2-mile tour through our four theme parks; among them, 95 athletes who were at that first race in 1994, and have run every year since. All in all, more than 65,000 participants will take part in events ranging from the diaper dash to Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge during the 2013 Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna.
Being involved with runDisney is easily one of the best parts of my job. I am a big fan of running, but I am an even bigger fan of runners. Every runner has a story behind why they do the miles that they do … and that is what runDisney is all about, a story-telling company helping runners make their running dreams come true.
At this year’s marathon, there are hundreds of remarkable stories that deserve to be told. One such collection of stories is brought to us by our race sponsor, Cigna. This year, a number of Cigna employees have volunteered to run the Family 5K event with members of Achilles Kids, which is an international organization that helps people with disabilities compete in mainstream athletic events. For kids with disabilities, physical activity can be life-changing, and it gives these young athletes a way to measure achievement, gain confidence and have fun.
Cigna is also sponsoring six runners from Students Run Philly Style. This Philadelphia-based program offers marathon training to help disadvantaged youth succeed in life. These students have trained side-by-side with their mentors three days a week from March to November. Along the way, they’ve completed eight road races, engaged in leadership and character development, and will bring it all home at the Walt Disney World Half Marathon on Saturday.
These are just a few of the 65,000 stories that are to be told this coming weekend. If you are one of them, we are honored to be the setting for your amazing tale.