A father-son pair became the focus of attention during Sunday’s Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande

A father-son pair became the focus of attention during Sunday’s Xin’anjiang Marathon in Jiande, a county-level city in Zhejiang province, Xinhua reported.

The father, 45-year-old Luo Shujian from the province’s Jinhua city, ran the marathon while pushing a three-wheeled cart carrying his 13-year-old son Xiaobai.

Due to severe asphyxia during delivery, Xiaobai was diagnosed with cerebral palsy six months after he was born in 2009. What’s worse, he developed Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a severe form of epilepsy in young children that is hard to control, at the age of three.

Luo was told his son’s condition requires lifelong care. With help from charities, Luo’s family took Xiaobai to see experts on the management and treatment of LGS, and Xiaobai’s condition improved after taking medication.

Xiaobai cannot speak and has to be accompanied when going out. Most of the time, he has to stay at home, Luo has always wanted to take his son to see a wider world and the story of Dick Hoyt inspired him. Dick Hoyt teamed up with his son Rick, who was born a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, and the duo participated in over 1,000 races including marathons and triathlons.

To put the idea into practice, Luo began to go for long runs early in the morning on work days. On his days off, he took his son along with him.

The pair had their first try at the 7-kilometer mini marathon event in the 2015 Hangzhou Marathon and finished the race in about an hour. Luo found that Xiaobai was thrilled and happy during the race and would laugh and clap his hands.

The positive response encouraged Luo, and over the years he has taken his son to participate in 54 races in over 20 Chinese cities, with Sunday’s marathon as the latest one.

Luo said participation in the races is also a good chance for him to take Xiaobai to visit different places in the country and make Xiaobai’s life more enjoyable and fulfilled. Luo hopes Xiaobai can feel the hardship, warmth and strength of life through engagement with the races.

While taking Xiaobai to take part in these competitions across the country, Luo encountered many families with children with special needs. He knew too well the difficulties such families were facing and tried his best to raise people’s awareness.

Luo has organized activities on World Autism Awareness Day for a couple of years, taking autistic children mountain climbing and running outdoors.

“It’s through my son that I’ve gotten to know about autistic children. Many of their families are more needy than mine,” said Luo, adding that though there’s not much he can do, it’s worth the effort.

Cnr.cn and Jimu News contributed to the story.

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