The 2011 New York City Marathon, held on November 6, was filled with all kinds of runners: experienced, novice, accomplished, notorious, and international ones. Each of these runners brought with them a story unique to them and their past. One runner in particular, Maickel Melamed, brought with him to the New York City a story of pride, struggle, and accomplishment.
Mickael Melamed‘s struggles began the minute he was born. During birth, his umbilical cord wrapped around his neck, suffocating him and leaving him motionless. His brain lost oxygen for just seven minutes which led to a severe motor disability, hypotonia, where patients suffer from low muscle tone and have a hard time doing any activity requiring physical strength.
However, despite all the odds stacked against him, Melamed has achieved many goals that people without a motor disability like his are unable to accomplish, like climbing Venezuela’s highest peak and surfing.
Two years ago, Melamed decided that the New York City Marathon would be his next expedition and began to train in his hometown of Caracas. However, when Melamed submitted an application to run in the marathon in 2010, he was rejected. He took this rejection as motivation, and completed a half marathon in Miami. Melamed later joined Achilles Inernational which helps people with disabilities participate in athletic events alongside people without any disabilities. This year, after all his feats were considered, he was finally accepted as a participant in the New York City Marathon.
Melamed exemplified commitment and perseverance as he completed the marathon in over 15 hours, about four times the average completion time of four hours. Melamed stated, “If you dream it, make it happen,” and this was just the phrase he kept in mind when running the New York City Marathon.
It is truly incredible how a story like this one can bring a whole country together. On Sunday night, Venezuelans took to their Twitters and Facebook pages to post about Melamed’s progress and how much time he had left. The hashtag #VamosMaickel (“Let’s go Maickel”) was trending not only in Venezuela, but worldwide. In the end, it was reported that hundreds of fans waited for Maickel at the finish line at around 1am Monday morning. Marathon organizers announced that they had never seen such a large group of waiting for the last athlete to finish.
Mickael Melamed is an inspiration not only for those with disabilities or for those in need of some inspiration. His heartbreaking story led to an outstanding achievement, he truly is “the vehicle to help others find their way.”
Watch the video below to witness the preparations of Maickel Melamed.