Every one of the more than 45,000 runners expected to finish the 2013 ING New York City Marathon on November 3 brings to the race their own motivation and reason for running. Some race the 26.2 mile, five-borough course to break records and make history, and others for the sense of personal accomplishment following a long road of training. Bill Reilly is running in his 30th marathon to demonstrate the great strides people living with cerebral palsy can make when offered access to the right services.
A veteran of more than 20 NYC Marathons, the 61-year-old from Queens is known as “Backwards Bill” because, lacking the ability to use his arms, he navigates by pushing his specially built wheelchair backwards with one leg.
Born with cerebral palsy, he always dreamed of taking part in the sports other children participated in. Now, with every race, he inspires not only families impacted by CP but the greater running community.
Race officials from the New York Road Runners club work to accommodate all athletes, by making special provisions for entry, transportation to the start, post-race reunion areas and permitting the use of “guides” who can enter the race free of charge to accompany their athletes.
Running with Backwards Bill is a team of guides that help to make a path on the course and make sure he’s on the right track. His longtime guide Harold Chayefsky said, “Bill loves the sport of running, for the challenge, for the health benefits that staying active provides, and of course to support CP charities. But, one of his primary motivations is to use the platform to show children with disabilities that they too can participate in mainstream athletic activities.”
On November 3 Bill is racing with Achilles International, a non-profit that encourages those with disabilities to remain as active as they can.