This story is part of a larger feature on 10 do-gooders from Saratoga and the rest of the Capital Region. To meet the other nine honorees and purchase tickets for annual fundraising event, visit our Capital Region Gives Back event page.
When Shaun Evans found out that his son, Shamus, had Cerebral Palsy, he took the news in stride. Literally. Evans began pushing Shamus in a jogging chair while training for a marathon, and by the time Shamus was 7, the duo ran their first ultra-marathon together, covering 45 miles in six hours to win the race. Afterward, Shamus asked how far he and his dad could run if they ran that far every single day of his summer vacation. “Just as an exercise in mathematics, I helped him multiply it out,” Evans says. They discovered they could run 3,000 miles—about the width of the country. Shamus’ response? “Oh, we’ve got to do that.”
Evans figured Shamus would forget about the idea, but he didn’t. “The night before Thanksgiving, I went to talk to him in bed,” Evans says. “He said, ‘Dad, when we run across America, can we give chairs to kids like me so they can feel what it’s like to go fast?’ So I stepped out of his room with a tear in my eye and a lump in my throat and said to my wife, ‘We’ve really got to try to make this happen.’”
A year and a half later, in 2015, it happened. Evans and Shamus teamed up with Ainsley’s Angels, an organization that promotes inclusivity by providing families with adaptive equipment, to run 3,205 miles from Seattle to New York City in 60 days and to donate 35 chairs to kids with disabilities along the way. Now, the Evans family hosts an annual Ainsley’s Angels 5K in Galway, where runners can sign up as pushers and be paired with riders who can’t run the race themselves. And Evans just released Better Together, a memoir about his and Shamus’ journey. “His whole entire life,” Evans says, “whatever Shamus wants to do, we’ll figure out a way to make it happen.”