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Sisters Run for Special Needs Organization

Photo by Carri Graham Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic participants and sisters run for the “I Run 4” organization. From left are Jill Connolly, Sarah Tipton and Tina Oleary.

WHEELING — Sisters Jill Connolly and Tina Oleary traveled a long distance to participate in the Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic.

Sarah Tipton resides in Wheeling, but her sisters came from North Carolina and Massachusetts to join her in the race Saturday.

The siblings are not running for themselves; instead they are running for the “I Run 4” organization, as stated on their matching shirts.

The organization is a special needs buddy program that matches runners with children who have physical disabilities that can prevent them from participating in many physical activities.

“You get paired with people who are impaired and can’t participate in any type of sports. So you run for them and then you mail them your medals and shirts so they feel like they participated,” Connolly said.

This year, the trio ran for a special needs girl named Natasha, from Tennessee, who is being raised by a single father, the sisters said. Sesame Street’s Elmo is her favorite character, so the trio had his picture on their shirts.

Sadly, the sisters said little Natasha died in January.

So the sisters dedicated their half marathon run this year to her memory and will be sending their awards and shirts from the half marathon to her father.

The three plan to continuing running for the “I Run 4” organization in upcoming races.

Tipton finished the half marathon in 1:58:26. Connolly finished in 2:11:39. And Oleary finished in 2:55:12.

This is the second year that Connolly and Oleary have participated in the Wheeling half marathon and Tipton’s third year.

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