For anyone considering running the virtual Silver Run this month, Ethan Berg has some advice.
“You don’t need to be faster than other people,” he said. “And you don’t have to run the whole time.”
Ethan, who turned 14 on June 1, knows from experience what it’s like to run a race and not be among the first to cross the finish line.
Despite being born with a mild form of cerebral palsy, Ethan has completed marathons in the Youth Run Club and has participated in the Duck Run, Gators Swim Team and CrossFit Motivate all at the Don Sjogren Community YMCA.
The YMCA empowered him to reach his full potential, built his confidence and encouraged him to enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.
Ethan’s parents learned that he suffered from cerebral palsy when he didn’t start walking until about age 2. But, that didn’t stop him from being an active child.
He started running in run club at school and at the YMCA and enjoyed the health benefits of regular exercise and better muscle tone.
One of his best childhood memories happened in 2017 at the YMCA’s one-mile Duck Run at Healthy Kids Day. Ethan was nearing the finishing line but was lagging behind the other runners.
“All of a sudden, this big group of people came up and finished with me,” Ethan said. “It was awesome. I felt really special. It was one of the most memorable moments.”
His mom, Adrienne, fought back the tears when she saw how the community came together to support her son.
“It just goes to show the caring community we are in and the support they gave him,” Adrienne said. “Ethan went out to run with a disability, and they all surrounded him with support.”
Ethan continued running and later participated in the YMCA’s Silver Run with his dad, Tim.
“I don’t run as fast as others, and I didn’t care how fast I ran,” Ethan said. “I’m just glad I finished the race. I just felt great afterward. Not running as fast as other people – it doesn’t really bother me that much.”
Ethan then participated in the YMCA Gators swim team with that same attitude.
He improved his swim technique and his speed throughout the year and enjoyed hanging out with his swim team friends.
“It was an awesome year,” Ethan said. “I really enjoyed swim team.”
This past year, Ethan discovered even more of his potential in the YMCA’s CrossFit Motivate youth class. His instructor, Adam, modified some of the exercises for him, and Ethan participated along with the other young teens.
Ethan said he is grateful that his mom works at the YMCA (at the front desk) because it has encouraged him and his brother, Tristan, to be more involved in new activities and discover their potential.
“Being involved in the Y just shows me that I can do stuff that other people do and not feel left out,” Ethan said. “Sure, a lot of people can do stuff better than me – that’s just a part of life. But, I figured out my own personal talents, and that’s improved my life a lot.”
Ethan is looking forward to starting his freshmen year at HHS this fall and keeping up his high grade point average.
And, he will always remember the community support offered him at the YMCA and especially the Duck Run.
“It’s stuff like that stays in your memory,” Ethan said. “It’s something I’ll never forget.”