NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – A stranger’s generosity is helping a 12-year-old boy born with spina bifida go the distance.
Last year, Gabriel Langlois, who uses a wheelchair, completed the half marathon distance with his dad and grandpa at the Community First Fox Cities Marathon. This year, he’s back and he’s looking to double the distance.
“I knew that I could do the half marathon, so now I wanted to do the full,” said Langlois.
Shortly after finishing the half marathon, Gabriel needed surgery and his dad said there were some complications with his recovery. However, as soon as they got home to Neenah Gabriel went right outside to do some training.
“Gabriel represents perseverance to me, and so many other people. He inspired a lot of people and this year I’m hoping people see this story and recognize him on the course ad cheer him on,” said race director Julie Johnson.
Local Five News profiled Langlois ahead of the half marathon. A nonprofit group called Paul’s Party reached out asking for help connecting with the Langlois family. The nonprofit connects people with disabilities to recreational opportunities and donates equipment.
Paul’s Party gifted Gabriel a brand new racing wheelchair. A family friend also gave the Langlois’ a wheelchair treadmill so that he can train inside when the weather gets nasty.
“It makes them like everybody else, it makes them be able to participate, it evens the playing field and allows them to compete,” said Kathie Natzke with Paul’s Party.
“We pull up and he (Gabriel) was like is that my chair and I said ‘yeah.’ and his face just lit up, he was so excited,” said Daniel.
Gabriel told Local Five News that he loves the new racing chair, but admits there’s been a learning curve when it comes to figuring out how to use it.
Daniel will join Gabriel in the marathon and said that they will be the first people in their family to complete the distance.
“I can’t even describe the amount of commitment it takes for a child especially in a wheelchair to put in that much effort,” said Daniel. “And as a father you’re extremely proud of your child.”