For almost four years, one Kokomo Casting Plant worker has devoted his time and energy to running for those who are unable to run on their own.
Ben Davis III said running for Ainsley’s Angels, a charity that builds awareness about America's special needs community through running events, is like giving gifts on Christmas morning. Runners usually offer their legs to disabled or special needs children in a race or triathlon, and running with a little girl his first time got him hooked, he said.
“She lit up the room, and when I was pushing her, she kept looking back saying, ‘Go faster, go faster!’” Davis said. “I just took off, and ever since then just seeing the joy and the love and expression on the kids’ faces while pushing them had me hooked.”
The charity has grown since he first got involved. Davis said more runners have been added each year as the charity has expanded throughout the country. The more events that are put on, the more people are drawn in, he said.
He had nothing but glowing words about the organization and said it’s one of the highlights of his life outside of his family. Originally from Baton Rouge, La., Davis has been in Indiana for around 20 years working for Stellantis.
The company produces very talented and versatile workers, he said. Those workers have time and money to put their interests into other things, he said, which is why people see so many of them involved in extracurricular activities like Ainsley’s Angels.
“The beautiful part about working at [Stellantis] — because of the overtime and the sheer money that we actually make — you have enough time off because we can actually switch off and on during the weekends. We have the monetary resources to be able to do things and help out the community and affect the community in a positive way,” he said. “If it wasn’t for [Stellantis] and these well-paying jobs, I don’t think I would be able to do some of the stuff that I’m able to do.”
One of the reasons Ainsley’s Angels is thriving is because of its accessibility. It’s simple. People can go onto the website, and it’ll hook them up with the closest ambassador in their area since the charity is nationwide.
“We’re always looking for people to run, and we’re always looking for people to experience the great outdoors and be pushed,” he said.
It’s like a family, he said, seeing the same runners race after race and meeting them with mutual excitement about the cause.
During the warm months, Davis said there’s a race almost every week.
“The kids that are actually getting pushed, you get to know their family, and it’s just a whole family atmosphere. You kind of look forward to the next time you see them. With one guy that we were pushing, there was just invested interest in seeing them do well outside of racing,” Davis said. “That’s the beautiful part about the organization; it’s not just something to just feel good for the weekend. It’s a family, and it’s a community within itself. It has helped me out a lot.”
There are times when Davis gets tired and actually feels tired during the race, but at the same time, he knows he gets to feel that way because he was blessed with the ability to use his legs at all. That’s perspective-changing for him, he said.
Bringing joy to someone less fortunate makes Davis push through the soreness, and that feeling is contagious and invigorating.
“It’s one of those beautiful things,” he said. “When, yeah, I’m tired because I’m running and I’m running hard, but I look down at him, and I said, ‘You know what, no matter how I feel right now or how bad my day is or how terrible my life is, I’m bringing joy to someone that had it a hell of a lot worse than I had it.’ And I give it my all, and I think all the runners would say the same thing. We give our all to the kids because the kids give us all that back and then some.”