ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC4 News)- Thousands of runners took place in the 43rd annual St. George marathon Saturday. Members of the Connolly family said they’ve participated before, but this year, their two brothers came together in honor of multiple sclerosis awareness.
“Six months ago, Danny called me and said, ‘You’re doing it!’ and I said “Okay! Back on the bucket list!” exclaimed Brian Connolly at the finish line.
Brian was diagnosed with MS at age 14, and he’s been confined to a wheelchair permanently for the past five years. Saturday he accomplished a major feat — completing the St. George marathon while his brother Danny pushed him for 26.2 miles.
“For it being just a little idea like ‘Oh, let’s see if we can push my brother,’ the fact that it turned into this is actually way exciting,” said Danny Connolly.
Danny’s “little idea” became a reality in part due to his brother-in-law Jared Madsen, who spent hundreds of hours building a custom three-wheeled chariot from scratch.
“If you asked me last week, I thought I spent way too many hours on this project,” Madsen said. “But after today, after watching them cross the finish line, I don’t know if there’s too many hours we could’ve put in there. It was totally worth it.”
Madsen said he built the racer to keep Brian as low to the ground as possible to speed through tight turns and allow Danny to rest on the footpegs.
“Our communication during the race was a lot of fun,” Danny Connolly said. “We got to talk about danger, calling ‘Pothole right! Pothole Left! Trash on the Road! A bump here! A bump there!”
“I could hear [Danny] huffing and puffing back there, and I said, ‘I wish I could be right next to you pushing this, but thanks for doing it,'” Brian Connolly added.
The pair completed the race in 1 hour and 56 minutes, they said.
“To see that come true for [Brian] is just like a dream come true,” said his mother Joan Connolly.
“He was flying today,” Matsen added. “I think his top speed was around 40 miles per hour, and he had just a huge smile on his face.”
While Brian said he took an item off his bucket list, he emphasized that what he really wants to do is send a message to anyone with MS.
“Don’t suffer in silence,” Brian said. “Stay active and do what you want to do. The sky’s the limit, even though you’re in a wheelchair.”
Danny said he believes he and his brother qualified for the Boston marathon, and if they are allowed to bring the chariot on the course in Boston, they plan to.
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