Warms the Heart: Team Bart

In 2008, Manuel Cypers and Bart Kendrick participated in the Ogden Marathon for the very first time. Over the next 10 years, they ran more than 100 marathons, half marathons and community races together.

You see, 54-year-old Bart, is wheelchair bound and he depends on Manuel’s legs and strength to push him through the finish line. He suffers from a condition called Trisomy 13 which makes him unable to do many normal things, but Bart doesn’t let his condition define him. He uses it to inspire others.

The two met nearly 40 years ago when Manuel moved into the South Ogden neighborhood.

“He was the son of one of my good friends, who has since passed away. I would take Bart, along with my two sons, to different places and one day we got this idea to push him in the wheelchair,” said Manuel. “I had an acquaintance who was a paraplegic and he played basketball. I went to see if he had any old wheelchairs we could use and he had one. We tried it and it didn’t work, it was too small. We got a larger one and we modified it to where we could put a push bar on it to where I could push him around. We called it the Bart Mobile.”

The wheels of the Bart Mobile are decorated with all of the race tickets the two have earned. Two mini American flags hang from the front end and a larger American flag flies high in the wind along with another flag that says 2 Timothy 4:7. Manuel, wearing his Team Bart t-shirt, pushes from behind while Bart sits in the chair grinning from ear to ear, while cheering on and talking to other runners.

“We kinda learn these things about what we’re doing as we do them,” said 69-year-old Manuel. “We saw how many people were inspired by what we did and Bart loved it when people were cheering us on.”

With marathon season quickly approaching, right now it’s looking like there won’t be any races for Team Bart this year. The first week week in September, Bart was walking short distances with his walker when it collapsed. He fell and broke his ankle. He was in a cast for 90 days and he is currently at a local care center.

“He’s making some progress but progress is going really slow,” said Manuel, who also is having problems with his knees.

If the Bart Mobile stays parked this summer the flag of 2 Timothy 4:7 will continue to stand tall and be a great reminder of Team Bart’s purpose: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

 

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