Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Tim Boyle
As is the case with many who want to become physically fit, Tim Boyle was lacking motivation. He had just kicked a smoking habit and now craved the idea of becoming happy and healthy. Boyle’s aim was to fill the void left by cigarettes with running. However, as winter dawned on the Red River Valley, he lost his drive. That was when he turned to the internet for motivation.
“I Googled inspirational quotes,” Boyle said. “And one that came up was, ‘I run because I can and when I get tired, I remember those who can’t run and what they would give for the simple gift we take for granted.’ I thought that was so profound. There are people out there who would love to do what I’m doing and I’m complaining about it.”
From there, Boyle posted the quote on his Facebook page where a friend of his, a 56-year-old man with Down Syndrome, commented: “You can run for me anytime.” “I thought, ‘That’s brilliant,’ I am going to run for you,” Boyle said.
“With Who I Run 4, you are the legs for someone who needs the legs.”
So Boyle founded Who I Run 4, a nonprofit that pairs runners with people with physical or mental disabilities. What started out as a group with only Boyle and his buddy Michael has now bloomed into a worldwide phenomenon. “We had a core group of 10 of us and now we are closing in on almost 50,000 members,” Boyle said.
On top of that, Who I Run 4 is all over the globe. “We are in all 50 states and 98 countries with people from Australia, Germany, Hong Kong and South Korea,” he said. “I never thought it would be this far-reaching, I thought we could for sure get at least 100 members, but we had 200 in two months.” The nonprofit has also been featured in national publications like “USA Today” and “Runner’s World.” Boyle has recently branched the nonprofit out to include siblings of those with disabilities, as well as veterans.
With the Fargo Marathon coming up in May, Boyle anticipates 25 to 30 Who I Run 4 members to be running at the Fargodome. In that contingency will be Josh Hausauer, Boyle’s racing buddy. “He has Fahr’s Disease, which is where calcium deposits are being formed in the brain,” Boyle said. “It decreases his motor function and his ability to speak, but his mind is absolutely crystal clear. His brain is brilliant.”
Boyle got to know Josh and eventually, the two ended up doing the half marathon together. While the pair has done the half marathon for the last two years, Josh had a surprise for Tim this year. “He threw me under the bus by saying he wanted to do a full marathon,” Boyle said laughing. “You can’t say no to something like that.”
According to Boyle, Who I Run 4 makes running more than an individual sport. “Running is a selfish sport,” Boyle said. “With Who I Run 4, you are the legs for someone who needs the legs. It just transcends it into something beautiful, you are helping someone to cross the finish line for the first time in their life. We have given them an outlet, outside of their family, of people who care. We care for them as a human.”
Boyle hopes that people will come out to Scheel’s on Thursdays for their weekly run nights where you can also find out more about Who I Run 4.
Learn more at whoirun4.com.