China's very own Dick Hoyt
Participants of the 2021 Jindong Greenway-Zhejiang Marathon Team Race in Jinhua, Zhejiang province on April 18 bore witness to a touching scene that day when a father competed in the half-marathon event with his wheelchair-bound son.
Luo Shujian, 44, would stop after every kilometer to encourage his son, nicknamed Xiaobai, who has cerebral palsy.
The duo completed the race in one hour and 43 minutes, and received thunderous applause from the spectators.
"This is the 52nd marathon that my son and I have attended," Luo told local reporters.
"My son loves to watch people running in crowded places but has little chance of doing so on his own. This is why I accompany him to see more of the exciting outside world," Luo said. "It is totally worth it no matter how tired I am."
Luo added that he was aspired to do so by Dick Hoyt (1940-2021), an American man who pushed his son, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, through 1,130 endurance events, including 72 marathons and six Ironman Triathlons, over the span of about four decades.
Luo started to train for long-distance races in July 2015 and completed his first marathon with his son in the provincial capital of Hangzhou in November that year.
Over the past six years, the father and son have taken part in 52 marathons in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Wuxi, Lishui, Lanzhou, Guangzhou, Wenzhou, and Suzhou.
Luo said he hopes to inspire families that have children with special needs through his actions.
"I will continue to push my son through races until the day I am physically unable to do so," Luo said.
Luo Shujian runs while pushing his son in a wheelchair during a half-marathon race in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, on April 18. [Photo/zj.zjol.com.cn]
The medals Luo has earned from previous marathon races over the past six years. [Photo/ zj.zjol.com.cn]