Wayne State College Students Serve as Guide Runners
Walk by faith, not by sight. Three blind runners and a walker placed their faith in three Wayne State College students during the Wacky 5K Run in Chicago on March 2. The WSC students served as guide runners through the Blind Services Association.
An experienced guide runner, Tyrone Wrice, trained and ran with the students. Wrice is director of the Wayne State College Multicultural Center.
"These students are natural leaders. Their confidence comes from within,'' Wrice said. “One of my main aspirations is to inspire young runners to race.’’
Jedd Lehman, Tony Jacobsen and Ian Engebretsen spent spring break helping others through this project. The three WSC students also have long-term plans in common. All are working to help others throughout their lives after earning degrees at Wayne State College. Lehman of Columbus plans a physical therapy career. Engebretsen will study medicine. Jacobsen plans to be a teacher. Engebretsen and Jacobsen are Laurel-Concord High School graduates.
“Mr. Wrice proposed the idea to us and we felt this would be a good opportunity to help out. I feel this experience will also help me when I enter into the physical therapy field,'' Lehman said. "Looking back on the race itself, I was so glad I took advantage of this opportunity. The race seemed really short because Ian and I were more worried about our runner, Tim, rather than worrying about ourselves. I believe this is what made the race and overall experience truly rewarding.”
The runners agreed Wrice trained them well for the race and prepared them for things to remember like giving the runners water.
"He (Wrice) outlined how to get the runners through traffic and other things to watch for,'' Lehman said. "I wanted the runners to have the opportunity to get where they want to go and to do their best.''
Engebretsen and Jacobsen said they will benefit from this experience as they continue with their education and careers with children in education and people in need of medical care.
Jacobsen is a math education major and participates in intramurals.
"I wanted to help. This lets them know there are good people out there,'' Jacobsen said about becoming involved in guiding the runners. He discovered the opportunity when Wrice, Engebretsen and Lehman were training at the Rec Center on campus. "I thought it was a great effort. I was here working out anyway. They invited me to join them. I decided to become involved."
Engebretsen is majoring in biology with minors in chemistry and exercise science. He is a swim instructor and is training for his first marathon and a triathlon. He has participated as a volunteer at the Wayne State College Physiology Understanding (PhUn) Day and the Wayne Elementary HHPS-Wellness Awareness Day. He participates in biology and nature clubs and has made the dean's list.
"These runners have limitations. We helped them to be free of them for a time to do what they wanted to do,'' Engebretsen said. “I enjoyed the race. It was a great opportunity to get exercise and a chance to help someone else get some good exercise. I would encourage other WSC students to be involved in an experience like this because it is an opportunity to work with people. I would love to be a guide again.’’
Lehman graduated from Columbus Lakeview and played college baseball at the junior college level at Highland Community College in Highland, Kan. He transferred to Wayne State College in the fall of 2007 and has made the dean's list each semester. His major is applied human sport physiology. He participates in the pre-physical therapy club and volunteers for the food service board for Terrace Residence Hall.
"I've never been afraid to fail. You always take something away from it,'' Lehman said. He explained that this was something he learned after playing baseball and dealing with an injury. "My experience made me want to study physical therapy. The path you take in life is what you make of it. Opportunities like this don't come along that often. When they do, people need to take advantage of them. Don't be afraid to stick your neck out and help someone else. You need to be willing to fail, to succeed and to learn.''
The group dedicated two nights of each week for training on the Wayne State College campus.
"People noticed we were training for something, asked what it was for and encouraged us,'' Lehman said. "This experience has meant something to me because a lot of education is beyond class and books. It has been well worth my time.''
Wrice said his inspiration for being involved with guide running has been his 88-year-old grandmother, Frances Rice-Gordy of Philadelphia. Since the Chicago race, Wrice said more students have become interested in guide running. He now has at least 10 students interested in helping visually impaired runners.