One of the highlights of Boilermaker Sunday every year is the 15k Wheelchair Race. Each year the race sees a new face ready to take the challenge and compete not only for personal gains, but for a chance to win something truly special.

The 2024 Wheelchair Challenger is an inspirational man named Face Wallace. Wallace used to be a competitive runner. His running days began when his wife challenged him to run a 5-mile race with her. They would train together and ultimately complete that race and then they were off to more training and eventually graduated to competing in marathons together. Their running was something that bonded them together even more.

Unfortunately four years ago Wallace was in the midst of training for one of his longer marathons when he began to experience some serious issues. It started with mysterious cramping and numbness and one morning he woke up with no feeling in his feet. He then has no feeling in anything below his ribs. After several tests, doctors determined he had Multiple Sclerosis. That effectively ended his running days. But, Wallace is no quitter.

Wallace says,

I bought a jogging baby stroller and put 80 lbs. of weights in it so I could run and lean on it for stability. It worked, but when I contacted race directors, they all told me that they don’t allow strollers. I bought braces that would help me lift my toes, but they only let me jog about 2 miles before I start stumbling dangerously.

That is when he bought a wheelchair and started racing with it. A normal wheelchair is insanely difficult to truly compete in. There are special racing wheelchairs, but they can be VERY expensive. So, each year the Boilermaker incentivizes a new participant to compete to win one. That is what Wallace intends to do. If he can compete the race in 2 hours and 15 minutes in his regular wheelchair, SITRIN will provide him with a brand new racing one and his dream of training and competing in Tokyo and Boston will be that much closer to a reality.

Mark Deperno is the adaptive sports director for SITRIN and he says,

These chairs are designed for speed and stability. We are proud to be in a position to sponsor the challenge and truly make a difference in the lives of these athletes.

Since the program began in 1997 SITRIN has given away 32 racing wheelchairs, which cost roughly $5,000, to Wheelchair Challenge participants. We wish Wallace the best of luck and we can't wait to see the smile on that FACE as he crosses the finish line triumphantly.

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