A Chinese father runs 56th marathon with disabled son on stroller
At the 2023 Shenzhen Marathon, Luo Shujian, a 45-year-old father, ran across the finish line with a unique stroller in which his 13-year-old son Xiaobai, who has cerebral palsy, sat and wore a helmet.
Xiaobai's mother and sister, through a video call, joined in the celebration of the 56th marathon run by the father and his son since 2015.
Luo finished the half-marathon race in Shenzhen with Xiaobai in one hour and 59 minutes. Their first full marathon time was five hours and 40 minutes. But with great effort, their personal best is 3:28.
When Xiaobai was born, severe asphyxia caused brain damage, and he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. It took him over two years to learn how to walk; and his epilepsy affects his cognitive ability.
Although he can't express any emotion by speaking, "when he is clapping and smiling, it means he is very happy," Luo said.
For most of Xiaobai's lifetime, he can only stay in the recovery room at home. However, Luo did not give up on his efforts to give his son a full and happy life.
He read the legendary story of Dick Hoyt and his son online.
Hoyt's son had the same struggle as Xiaobai. To make his son happy, Dick pushed a special stroller with his son inside and finished more than 1,000 marathon races in his lifetime.
Inspired by Dick's spirit, Luo started undertaking marathon training activities with Xiaobai.
Luo, a courier who works 12 hours per day without any sports experience, had to squeeze his morning time into improving his fitness. He insists on getting up at 4am to jog or cycle before work.
Sitting in the stroller during the marathon is also a big challenge for Xiaobai. Luo said: "Xiaobai has the same state as runners. He will behave excitingly in good fitness and feel exhausted in poor fitness."
Luo has to improve his pace for Xiaobai's good mentality and safety during the run. Besides marathons, Luo also brings Xiaobai to triathlons and cycling.
Xiaobai likes to stare at the outside world while sitting in the stroller during races, clapping and smiling to show his happiness.
Other runners near Xiaobai showed kindness and positive energy around their stroller, cheering them on as they passed.
The running journey of this father and son has taken them to Chengdu to see pandas, Beijing to climb the Great Wall, and Lanzhou to take photos along the Yellow River.
Luo and his family will keep running together with Xiaobai in the future, giving their son the best life possible in the process.