Neil, Ruth & Zola Robinson, Event Organisers, Waggy Races
Vincent Guthrie, Race Director, Tullaroan Marathon
Since first setting eyes on TEAM KERR at a road race in October 2014 and hearing their inspirational story we are now privileged to say David, Sandra and Aaron have become our good friends. We love seeing TEAM KERR at races we enter as runners ourselves and were keen to see them at one of our own BORN2RUN events. As we are primarily an off-road events organisation it was to be August 2015 before they were able to join us at the Dambusters Half Marathon and 10K races at the Silent Valley. They are fantastic ambassadors for assisted running and inclusion for all and we are proud to be a part of that goal. The BORN2RUN regulars loved having TEAM KERR at the race and seeing the sheer enjoyment on Aaron’s face as they crossed the line and busted the DAM! It was a tough course but TEAM KERR where up to the challenge. We discussed the options with TEAM KERR of taking part in some of our off road Run Forest Run Winter races and with a few minor route changes we welcomed them to Gosford and Tollymore Forest Park recently. We would encourage any race director to take the time and discuss options with TEAM KERR as the work they are doing as ambassadors in sport is so important and inspirational to others. Just to get one of Aaron’s now famous high five or hugs is reward enough. BORN2RUN TEAM
Eugene Coppinger, Deputy Race Director, Dublin Marathon
PIPS Newry and Mourne was established in 2003 and offers the community a targeted response to suicide and self-harm, and is the leading suicide prevention charity in the area.
Our mission is to be an advocate for families and communities impacted by suicide, and to ultimately reduce the incidents of suicide and save lives. Through the provision of support, counselling, training and awareness to the entire community we work to reduce the stigma and silence associated with the subject of suicide.
I established the Annual PIPS Newry and Mourne 10k Run and 5k Walk event in 2010 as a fundraising and awareness event.
The event has always had several priorities:
Create awareness of World Suicide Prevention Day (Globally acknowledged as September 10th annually) and central to that is inclusion and balloon release ceremony by individuals and families bereaved through suicide
Fundraise for our work in suicide prevention through a running/walking event. Both these activities are associated with having positive impacts on mental health and well-being
Inclusion-Our event was created that EVERYONE should have the opportunity to participate. We have had disabled, less-abled, children, pensioners, sight restricted and wheelchair participation from our first event, through to the most recent.
Our annual event is held on the first Sunday in September (close to global Suicide Prevention Day) attracts 500+ participants and is recognised as one of the largest ‘charity co-ordinated’ 10k events in N.Ireland.
For Team Kerr’s inclusion in our 2015 event, I personally asked David, Sandra and Aaron would they accept an invitation to participate. As a runner myself, I have met them on the roads at many events in recent years. No one can fail to be inspired by them. I know what training is required to participate, in a 10k run, Half-Marathon and Full Marathon distance. I am completely in awe at the preparation, effort and doggedness it must take, to maintain the health, fitness and most of all motivation which David and Sandra show us every time we runners meet them. What they must do to prepare and participate is on a different level to what we as individuals do.
For these very reasons, it is important for our event to be inclusive, to show others who may not be feeling so positive, feeling down or feeling low, that inspiration and positivity is all around us. If our event can help promote that inspiration and positivity through INCLUSION FOR ALL then we are doing what we set out to do.
In March 2015 I was privileged to meet and run in the cross border race 'Dune Half Marathon' with the inspirational team of Sandra, David and Aaron Kerr. We subsequently hit off what I expect to be a life long relationship with three amazing individuals and have kept in touch regularly since then.
As one of the committee members of a local Dundalk race the Patsy Kelly 5k (PK5K), we were honoured for Team Kerr to register for our race in April 2015. The PK5k has been nominated as one of the top 5 short distance races in Ireland! With nearly 1000 entrants last year comprising of walkers, local runners and high profile national elite athletes we were thrilled to encompass the addition of wheelchair entrants, and what a success it was!! Although our course had various terrains such as road, paths, gravel etc Team Kerr had no hesitations in tackling it all..showing that yes, anything and everything was possible.
I have since ran with Team Kerr on other prestigious courses such as Derry Marathon and Monaghan 10 miler. They are truly an inspiration to other families that might hesitate over wheelchair access to races... Team Kerr has shown that everything is possible. I wish them continued success in their running career and hope they continue to share the love and family commitment that has grown between them and their massive running family that has not only spread nationwide but worldwide!
As we kick off our preparations for this years PK5K race in April we will be using Team Kerr's 2015 success in our race to encourage more local wheelchair users and their families to get together, work together, get involved and share the love of running.
Eamon Murphy, Event Organiser, PIPS Newry & Mourne Annual 10K Run/5K Walk
In September 2015, David Kerr got in touch with me to enquire about the Run Glenn event. David had 2 very simple queries regarding: 1. The overall Accessibility of the 10k route; and 2. If we could allow Team Kerr to set off approximately 30 seconds in advance of the rest of the field - to allow them to "tuck in" to let faster runners pass by seamlessly. Of course we were honoured to oblige and excited about the prospect of welcoming Team Kerr to Glenn. As organisers, we are always keen to maximise accessibility for all participants - meaning that Team Kerr and others can relax and enjoy the annual Event. On the day of Run Glenn, the buzz created by the inspirational trio of Sandra, Aaron and David provided a superb addition to the Event. So many other participating runners on the circuit have become friendly with Team Kerr that there were big hugs, selfies and laughs aplenty in the build-up. As the runners lined up, Team Kerr set off with a huge cheer from all other competitors and another challenging journey for the Team commenced. As it turned out, Aaron, David and Sandra valiantly completed Run Glenn - a tough, rolling route - and at the finish line enjoyed more stories, compared notes and exchanged thoughts on what was another completed Event from 3 genuinely good people who are evidently passionate about running and, in particular, assisted running. As the tea sandwiches and treats were consumed, I as an organiser of Run Glenn reflected on how much of a lift Team Kerr gave to our Event and we very much hope to welcome them in Glenn, Newry for many years to come.
It was our great pleasure to have David, Sandra and Aaron participate in our inaugural 5 mile run in June 2015. They are inspirations to every one of us involved in Oran’s Foundation. There were no issues with their inclusion in our race, in fact the opposite is true. They added enormously to the wonderful family occasion inspiring all those participants around them and it was our pleasure to see them at the event. They handled a challenging course superbly. We facilitated a slightly earlier start for them and they were led off in style with a Harley Davidson which added hugely to the event. We very much wish them success in all their events and hope to see them every year at our annual run.
Carol, Jane and Gerard, Event Organisers, Born2Run Events
I was contacted by David way back in March 2015 explaining that himself and his wife Sandra and the main man, Aaron would like to take part in the Walled City Marathon. As the conversation developed I could tell that they had a sincere ambition not to let Aarons disability prohibit the quality of life they shared together as a family and we welcomed them on board.
David’s main concern at the time was accessibility for their vehicle close to the start which, thankfully we were in a position to accommodate. He also asked about the course, was it steep, wheelchair friendly etc... Everyone knows Derry has the odd hill in it but when we explained that we have a number of wheelchair athletes competing every year it should be manageable but challenging. (Check out their video and you will see the wheelie going up Fahan st) The feedback we received regarding them was amazing. People commented on how professional they were by not blocking other runners, how much of an effort it must be to push the chair around the 26.2 miles, and of course how great it is to see such a close family doing what they love together. Aarons hugs and high 5’s have to be seen to be believed!! We are truly honoured and grateful that Team Kerr chose Derry as their first marathon and hope they have many more of them. Truly Inspirational.
James Campbell, Race Director, Monaghan 10 Miler
Eamonn Sheehan, Cookstown Half Marathon Director
Clodagh Culligan, Oran’s Foundation
I had seen Team Kerr participate in various Marathons in Ireland in 2015 and felt honoured that they had requested to participate in this year’s Eddie Murphy Memorial Run. Both Sandra and David were extremely professional and responsible before, during and after the race. They didn’t require or ask for any special facilities or treatment and followed all our instruction for the course on the day. Seeing Aaron smiling and hugging people warmed many a heart on a cold Sunday in November and I can honestly say they added extra dimension to an already special day. I hope to meet Team Kerr again on the roads of Ireland in 2016 and they are very welcome down to Sixmilebridge again next November.
Melanie Hearty, Patsy Kelly 5K Committee
Ger Donohue, Deputy Race Director, Eddie Murphy Memorial Run
Scott Galbraith, Race Organiser, The Walled City Marathon
Beverly Reid, Run Director Wallace parkrun
2015 has proven to be another superb year for running & has surpassed all our expectation. 2015 was even more significant to Tullaroan AC & Marathon Club Ireland & indeed the entire running community as we were all introduced to David, Sandra & Aaron collectively known as Team Kerr. This incredible family from County Down in Northern Ireland, have really enhanced the running experience for everyone who has met them.
As the year went on the buzz around Team Kerr was gathering momentum & wherever they went to race, people wanted to meet them to hear their story & run with this inspiring family.
Back in September ourselves at Tullaroan AC where honoured to host Team Kerr & seeing them take part in their 1st Tullaroan marathon was one of the highlights of the year & with the fantastic support of Marathon Club Ireland & it`s remarkable members, a real bond has been formed & lifelong friendships made. From speaking to the many people who have ran & accompanied Team Kerr on their numerous amount of races up and down the country, the feeling that people were left with was an overwhelming sense of accomplishment & pride.
Seeing this family powering forward & not letting Aaron`s disability stop them from being able to enjoy life together as a family, gain new experiences together is a powerful, emotional & deeply moving thing. The feedback we have received from runners, organisers etc. has been so positive & it is humbling to know that Team Kerr are welcome & have been made welcome wherever they have ran. There is a strong feel good factor around Marathon Club Ireland & Team Kerr, the feeling of inclusion & togetherness everyone is feeling is immense.
I`ve chatted with David & Sandra many times during the year & they are both fantastic role models & the most down to earth & delightful people you could hope to talk to & in Aaron have an incredible young man, who seems to be loving this running craic and is always on hand to share around his famous hugs. Marathon Club Ireland and Tullaroan AC are honoured to be associated with this inspiring, remarkable & awesome family. Marathon Club Ireland are a very unique club so it`s fitting that such a unique family are members. 2016 promises to be another unbelievable year & with the club expanding & getting stronger all the time, the sky’s the limit for us all. Team Kerr & Marathon club Ireland Running & rolling together.
I was contacted by David way back in February 2015 explaining that himself Sandra and Aaron take part in numerous running events promoting inclusion and are considering taking part in the Larne Half Marathon in March. As we have had a wheelchair category for a number of years we had no issue with Team Kerr taking part and assured them that the course was not only suitable but one of the most scenic around and we welcomed them on board.
We kept in touch over the next few weeks and talked about what needs were required and starting position etc which were all worked out and when they arrived on that sunny day they participated in the 13.1 miles with nothing but smiles from all 3 and the reaction from all the participants and supporters around the course truly stated that they are a total inspiration for everyone.
On behalf of Larne Athletic Club we were honoured to have them take part in our annual Half Marathon and hope to see them again this year, but carry on running guys you are admired by everyone.
I’ve been friends with Sandra for a few years now and over time I came to learn more about Aaron and both David’s and her love of running. However running together was not possible.
When their Hoyt chair arrived I was delighted that they decided to come along to Wallace parkrun for one of their earliest outgoings.
I can honestly say it was an emotional and inspirational morning! Having them join the event didn’t cause any concerns whatsoever. Our course is quite hilly with some tight corners but the Hoyt chair is remarkably light and manoeuvrable so it was no bother to Team Kerr. The buzz and excitement they bring is immeasurable and our parkrunners welcomed them with open arms – quite literally.
It is wonderful to see how much Aaron enjoys running and rolling together – everyone needs to see Team Kerr in person to experience it. The emotion when they cross the line is really quite something and mum and dad’s kisses for Aaron are wonderful to see.
Since then I have attended other events where Team Kerr have taken part and their profile and fan base just keeps growing. I have had the honour of running with them for a short distance at the Clonakilty marathon and the atmosphere they create along with their friends from Marathon Club Ireland, is infectious – I didn’t notice the miles go by. It was also fantastic to see other assisted runners taking part and to witness first-hand the exhilaration and thrill such inclusion can bring to everyone concerned.
Team Kerr have been back to Wallace parkrun, managing to fit us into their hectic schedule. They were welcomed back with open arms once again and Aaron’s hugs are now legendary. It is clear to see how Aaron’s confidence and personality have flourished and how Sandra and David are going from strength to strength not only as extremely accomplished runners, but as trail blazers for inclusion for all. I would encourage all event organisers to get involved with assisted running and to contact Team Kerr for more information.
Over a period of time I noticed Team Kerr at a number of events and I was touched by what a lovely team effort Sandra, David and Aaron put into each race they attended. They are never in anybody's way even though they use the running chair, running and rolling together with the rest of the runners.
As a new Race Director/Organiser of the Cookstown Half Marathon my first call was to invite Team Kerr to my event as I love and respect everything that they do in the running scene. For race day I said whatever you need or done I will get it sorted, all the team wanted was a parking space so they could setup up Aaron's chair. On race day they started and finished without any problems as usual with the only words 'That was our toughest half marathon'- due to the hills but was firmly ahead of a lot of runners. To other Race Organisers: Team Kerr are a lovely family who give 110% to run and roll with their disabled son, the inspiration they give us runners on and off the road is super and I encourage all other running events to welcome them as you would with all your other runners.
Marty McKay, Larne Athletic Club
Sandra has been a great supporter of Waggy Races since our very first event in 2014 - unfortunately due to the cross country nature of our runs, the terrain wasn’t always suitable for Team Kerr en masse. We were delighted however that they could enter our 5k on the compacted sand of Portstewart Strand. It was a pleasure to have them all running/rolling and due to their celeb-like status in NI running circles, they generate a fantastic atmosphere wherever they go! It is amazing what they have achieved in such a short space of time and we would love to have them back competing at our events (not least because Aaron’s trademark hugs are the highlight of many’s an athlete’s day).
Please send your testimonials to firstname.lastname@example.org, thank you.
It was a pleasure to be able to facilitate you at our 10 miler. Our race is open to everyone and I am pleased that you chose to take part. There were no issues or concerns for us having you there and we sincerely hope to see you all again this year...keep er fit.
Gary McArdle, Run Glenn Event Organiser
The Dublin Marathon has a strict policy of not allowing "strollers" in the event. This was imposed on us due to a number of reasons, the main one being that someone was injured by a stroller in one of our races in the Race Series. Restrictions could be imposed by an insurance company or by a safety consultant or even the local council. To be fair to race organisers, they may have different reasons.
However, I had seen the three of you competing in the SSE Walled City Marathon and I saw the absolute enjoyment on your faces. I also saw how responsible and professional you were. When you requested to take part in the SSE Airtricity Dublin Marathon, we did a risk assessment and agreed to your participation. I am delighted that we did. You did everything that you were asked (starting in the correct position at the correct time) etc and, hopefully, everything went smoothly for you.
I think that race organisers are coming around to the inclusion of assisted chairs. The Dublin Marathon would certainly listen to any advice you can give that would make things easier for yourselves and similar participants.