Pay It Forward: Runner gets $500 for his best buddy's wheelchair - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Pay It Forward: Runner gets $500 for his best buddy's wheelchair

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Tim Bolen & Jessica receiving the $500 pay it forward money from Paige Lund (Source: CBS 5 News) Tim Bolen & Jessica receiving the $500 pay it forward money from Paige Lund (Source: CBS 5 News)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Children with special needs are born with a barrier that often makes other students afraid to approach them. That's where a special program called Best Buddies steps in.

It's already working wonders in dozens of Arizona schools and is poised to race to new heights.

Timothy Bolen has been running most of his life, competing at the highest levels of endurance races all over North America, but regardless of where he finished, he always felt like something was missing.

"I had a niece, Sydney, who had Pallister-Hall syndrome, and one of my goals with her was that I always want to do a marathon, and she passed away when she was 10 and that just left a big hole," Bolen said.

Bolen has honored Sydney in many ways since her passing, most notably as the Arizona state director of Best Buddies, a program that pairs a student with a special needs buddy.

"She's made a lot of friends, she's not the girl on campus in a wheelchair, she's Jessica. And I've heard a lot of her classmates when they are walking to class, 'Hi Jessica. Hi Jessica,' and she didn't used to get that," Jessica's mom, Pam Dunn, said.

It was through Best Buddies that Bolen met Jessica, a fearless girl with an infectious smile.

"I saw her and I saw Sydney in her eyes and I still do ... I said, 'This is my full circle,'" Bolen said.

Bolen asked Jessica if she would like to come along for the ride when he runs the Rock-n-Roll Marathon, and it didn't take much convincing. The problem is that the wheelchair they need for the race costs $5,000.

Paige Lund offers up the ballroom at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel for the Best Buddies prom every year, and when she heard about the marathon this year, she wanted to do more.

"We want to pay it forward so that you're able to raise money for a wheelchair for Jessica so that you can participate in the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in January with Tim," Lund said.

"I can't thank people like Paige enough, I mean, they are very rare," Bolen said.

"We got to knock down these barriers and this wheelchair is going to help us plow through those barriers. Even if it's one stone at a time, we're going to do it," Bolen said.

If you'd like to help Bolen and Jessica get the wheelchair or just help Best Buddies in general, click here.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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