Special Report: Marathon Motivation

Special Olympians Train for First Marathon

What does it take to inspire?

Two men who live life with similar cognitive impairment disabilities have found the key to that by motivating each other.They set lofty goals in a sport that puts to body to the test in a big way.

Kelly Everson and Dillon Muehling have been friends and Special Olympics competitors for years, but this is the first time they’ve decided to run a full marathon together, “He just inspired me, basically I’m like, he could be just like me,” said Kelly.

That inspiration comes from the years Kelly and Dillon have been competing and supporting each other at the Special Olympics, “Five track and field events.  High jump, running long jump, 400 meter dash and shotput,” said Dillon of the events where they compete.

Kelly took up the challenge of training his friend.  And he is no stranger to this kind of grueling race since he already has four full marathons and three half-marathons under his belt — never letting his cognitive impairment disability deter him from his goals, “To run every single day.  Because if you don’t, you won’t make it through,” said Kelly.

Kelly knows the incredible amount of endurance this kind of event takes. And Dillon has the drive to run his first marathon, “I was pretty confident I could do it.  I just knew i had to train harder and get better at it, because I want to achieve something new,” said Dillon.

So, since January, the two, who also work together as custodians at the Grand Traverse Mall, have been treading the trails at places like the Grand Traverse County Civic Center getting in those miles, preparing for the Bayshore Marathon at the end of May.

Kelly said, “I’ve been pushing him all the way and he’s been doing excellent.”

“He’s a good coach.  He keeps me in line,” said Dillon

Kelly knew getting his friend to be able to run 26.2 miles would be a big task since they only started training at the beginning of the year.

He said, “I’m like, are you sure you want to do it, because it’s January and a lot of people take a year to practice before their first marathon.  It’s a big, huge event and he said, I wanna do it, I wanna do it. So, I’m like, O.K.”

But — with every stretch and every stride, Dillon is well on his way to being able to complete the marathon with his best friend by his side, “Means that he’s going to be there to watch over me and protect me in case anything happens. We’re like brothers,” said Dillon.

Two friends who have formed a common bond over sports; who have inspired each other to be the best they can be no matter what.