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An inspiring athlete takes on the Joplin Memorial Run - KOAM TV 7

An inspiring athlete takes on the Joplin Memorial Run

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JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

You may recognize him from this billboard last year.
And now, he's off, Richard Vaughn hits the pavement for his 200th race, the only Joplin Memorial run contestant in a wheelchair this year. 

"I know there's a lot of wheel chair basketball teams around here and other wheelchair athletes. Where are they? I'm challenging them to come out next year and not run against me, but run with me" says Vaughn. 

He races in a standard wheelchair, rather than a chair specially designed for runs.

"I do it to stay healthy, the second reason I do it in a standard chair is because the racing chairs are way too fast. They run away from the crowds. I run with the crowds. They inspire me, I inspire them"

He and around 700 other runners are competing in the half marathon in honor of lives lost in the tornado.

"The tornado is long past, and we've recovered from it and we've rebuilt. But it's still important to remember remember it every year" says the Joplin Memorial Run Director, Ruth Sawkins.

And to celebrate how far Joplin has come.

"Every year, I think it's a big celebration to say, we're resilient. We're a strong community and we pull together and i love that all of Joplin shows up for this event"

The proceeds of this year's race are going towards remodeling the new home of stained glass theater which destroyed in the tornado.

The race is done for Vaughn, and of course he gets a medal. But it's not the reward he's going for.

 "Finishing in honor of those 161 people...26 miles,13, miles, 5 miles, I'll be here" he says. 
He beat his own personal record this year with completing a half marathon in two hours and seven minutes, but the inspiration others find in him, cant be beat.

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