Lakewood: Pushing to the finish

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One Alameda High School challenge student will complete his first half-marathon, with help from one of the school’s resource officer.

Luke Olmsted, who has cerebral palsy, will be pushed for half of the Denver Rock-n-Roll Marathon on Oct. 20 by officer Jesus “Moose” Chavez.

“This is my fifth year at the school as a resource officer, and since I started here I’ve been working to get involved in the school,” Chavez said. “I’ve been going to music and drama performances and sport events, so I was looking for a way to do something with the challenge students so they would feel comfortable around me.”

Chavez has taken the students to the police department and shown them around, and he was also invited to a Special Olympics game day that Jeffco hosted.

In speaking with the students and their families, he learned about Luke, who despite his illness and the fact that he is non-verbal is a major outdoors and sports lover.

“Luke has always been an outdoors kid, and he loves participating and watching any and all sports,” his mother Gretchen said. “He does ski-sitting and we work with him in a swimming pool.”

Gretchen added that Luke regularly participates in the adaptive sports that Jeffco offers to its students.

All of this gave Chavez an idea — to literally push Luke farther than he’d ever been before.

“I’ve been running marathons since 2007, and I had the idea to push Luke in a 5K, and before we knew it, it was a half marathon,” Chavez said. “Then we had to figure out how to do this.”

Chavez worked with Athletes in Tandem, who was able to provide the athletic stroller that Chavez could push Luke in during the race. The cost was around $500, and the Police Athletic League, school and parents all donated money to pay for it.

He ended up raising $1,200 dollars to help other students who would also like to compete in a road races, all of which went to Athletes in Tandem.

“I didn’t think it was going to be that big,” Chavez said. “Luke’s really excited for the race. He can’t speak, but he knows there’s a challenge ahead, and it’s a good thing.”

Gretchen said she was blown away when she heard about Chavez’s offer, and thinks this is right up Luke’s alley. Luke’s entire family is going to be waiting at the finish line on Oct. 20.

“What Moose is doing just emulates how we are raising Luke,” she said. “We look at the possibilities, not the disability.”

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