SEASIDE, Ore. — The 40th running of the Hood to Coast Relay wrapped up on Saturday with thousands of runners crossing the finish line in Seaside.
Around 19,000 people were divided among 12-person teams tackling 36 legs of the 198-mile race. It takes guts and a heart with something to prove which is exactly what team Forrest Stump had.
“We're all a team of people with disabilities, various disabilities from all over the united states,” said runner Travis Ricks, who lost a leg as a teenager.
Another teammate Jamie Brown was born without a fibula. They have running prosthetics now but like so many kids today they couldn't afford one when they were younger.
As part of its awareness event, Forrest Stump teamed up with the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association, the National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics & Prosthetics and the American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists in hopes of changing that. The three groups started a legislative effort called "So Kids Can Move." It targets Oregon and Washington to become the first states after Maine to cover recreational prostheses for children.
“Most insurance companies deem running prosthetics as a luxury item,” said Brown. “As we see them now it's more of a necessity or a lifestyle for us and we want to make sure that every kid has the opportunity to be given a running leg where insurance companies cover it like a regular walking leg, so as not to take any opportunity for a kid to be a kid.”
KGW News fielded its own Hood to Coast Team called "Running Footage". Participants included general manager Steve Carter and reporters Alma McCarty and Evan Watson.
“My legs need a day off!” said Watson, after finishing his third leg of the relay. “It was just really fun. It was a great time and it was cool to see all the comradery and just this encouraging spirit out here as well.”
KGW had help filling its team roster from sister station, KUSA in Denver. KUSA producer Ally Heath brought her running legs and a personal story that made her effort extra meaningful.
Heath's great grandmother summited Mt. Hood three times — twice before Timberline Lodge was even built. Sixteen years ago, Heath and her family scattered her great grandmother's ashes on Mt. Hood and in other areas between the mountain and Seaside. This was her first time back.
“I could see Mt. Hood pretty much the whole time I was running and it just kind of felt like she was there cheering me on which felt awesome,” said Heath. “She always said, ‘The one thing I can give you is courage and the strength to keep going on,’ and every time I felt like I was slowing down a little bit, I just looked over and there she was, up on Mt. Hood. It kind of felt like a little light shining down on me to keep going.”
The Hood to Coast Relay sells out just about every year but participants may find their way in through its annual lottery. The lottery for the 2023 relay opens on October 5.