Local Special Olympians take part in runner's mission

Princeton student running to promote community wellness

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  • Heather Gerety, Destiny Gerety and Michael McCloskey, all West Milford Special Olympics athletes, run with Kyle Lang through northern New Jersey. photo by kristi clave

  • Kyle Lang takes a moment to pose with West Milford Special Olympic coaches and runners. photo by kristi clave

By Justina Addice

In his lifetime, Kyle Lang hopes to run across the United States, run the perimeter of the United States, run the length of the Western Hemisphere north to south, from Barrow, Alaska, to Punta Arenas, Chile, and run across all 50 states.

Kyle was recently joined by several local Special Olympians as he ran through northern New Jersey.

Already, he can check off one of these from his bucket list. As of Aug. 19, Kyle had run across the United States from North Cove, Washington, to Coney Island, New York, sponsoring three organizations: Great Rivers United Way, Every Hand Joined, and Special Olympics New Jersey.

West Milford athletes running for a stretch with Kyle were: Destiny Gerety, Heather Gerety and Michael McCloskey. Cheering them on were their coaches and teammates.

They also had the opportunity to talk with Kyle and listen to his fascinating story as well as take photos. The following day, Kyle finally arrived in Coney Island, thankful for his amazing adventure.

A native of Wisconsin and a student of Princeton University, Kyle grew up loving music, the outdoors, the Packers, and, of course, running.

He started running when he was just two with a ⅓-mile kid’s “race.” From there, this passion was born, continuing through middle and high school, where, although his performance was low- to mid-varsity, he was generally happy with his accomplishments. However, Kyle noted that “there were several times I was disappointed and felt that I deserved better results.” The solution? Running longer distances.

It was during one summer, when he ran 101 miles in two days for his senior exit project and to raise money and awareness for two local hunger organizations, that the idea for the transcontinental run was born. This idea as been with him ever since and this year it has become a reality.

For the transcontinental run, Kyle’s first mission is to give to the communities at Princeton, Red Wing, Minn., and West Salem, Wis., who have given so much to him over the years. He interned at Every Hands Joined in Red Wing through the Princeton Internship in Civic Service program, and his home town, West Salem, has been nothing but supportive, instilling in him the values he stills holds today.

His second mission is wellness, something that plays an important role in Kyle’s life -- and not just physical wellness. Throughout his life, he has been blessed with good health, a secure economic upbringing, a stable household, and a supportive and loving environment.

With this in mind, Kyle chose to run for three organizations that promote and develop community wellness. Not only do these inspiring and impactful organizations work to eliminate hunger and improve the physical health of children and adults, but also bring Olympic-type sports to develop those who are mentally disabled.

However, Kyle realizes that there are millions of children and families in the world that struggle with these basic wellness needs on a daily basis and thought that “if we can do our part to help, Oh, what a difference that will make. Oh, how their lives -- and ours -- will be changed for the better.”

To find out more about Kyle’s Running United 2017 journey across America, read his blog, or if you wish to donate please check out his website at Kylelangruns.com.

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