The PWCF Walks are now behind us, and from what I have heard they were once again amazing.  This year, however, for first time in our family’s history we were not able to attend our Walk (the Southern California Walk).  We have always been passionately fond of the Walks, and have each of us the full rainbow of tshirts in our closets for each year after Kiran was born and received his diagnosis.  However this year, at the time of the Walk in Fullerton, our Kiran was going to be receiving the “Rise Up” Award for being athlete of the year in his division from his Track Team.  This award in many ways represents a kind of validation of what his mom and I had hoped for him when we began taking part in the Walks, and later the Aquarium of the Pacific 5k.  So although it saddened us to finally miss a Walk, it was something we felt we had to do.

Kiran’s 2024 Track season was an incredible one.  This was his 4th season running with his team, Flying Phoenix Track Club, and we could tell right that he had a different level of focus this time right from the beginning.  He had actual goals in mind, including several personal records times that he wanted to achieve.  Gone were any complaints of being tired, or “can’t do it” statements that occasionally came out in his earlier seasons, replaced by just determination and positive statements to encourage his peers.  Kiran also just seemed to have more of an edge about him, and a confidence in himself as a runner that we had not previously seen before.  It was really wonderful to see.

Kiran’s hard work seemed to really pay off once the 2024 Track Meets began.  His team competes in the Valley Youth Conference, a very competitive Track and Field Conference.  At his first meet of the season he set 2 Personal Records (PR’s) in the 3000 meter and 1500 meter events, and would then go on to set PR’s in these events at 5 out of the 6 total Track Meets his team competed in.  The only meet he did not set a PR in was in Lancaster, where it actually rained very hard during his race but he still persevered with a strong run despite the difficult and cold conditions.  Kiran was also able to set 3 PR’s this season in the Shot Put, a traditionally difficult event for anyone who doesn’t have explosive or fast muscle responses.  His coaches told us that setting this many PR’s in a season was very unusual for any athlete, regardless of ability (or disability), and especially one as large as his best 3000m result at Granada Hills: a 1 minute and 30 second improvement over his previous record.  However what Kiran was most proud of at this meet was his ability to maintain pace with a neurotypical peer who was in previous races much faster than him.  What probably were some of his most exciting moments of the season were at the VYC Invitational where Kiran ran confidently against some of the fastest youth runners in the State.  While he didn’t finish ahead of them, his poise at the start line and his strong and relatively competitive finish gained him many compliments from these extremely athletic competitors.  To end the season, Kiran placed second in all 3 events at the Season Open Finals and was simply ecstatic that he would get to receive his medals on the podium.  At his Team Awards Celebration Picnic, Kiran was awarded the “Rise Up” Award for being athlete of the year for his division (Distance runners), for setting the largest PR on the whole team, and for being a team leader and motivator, modeling to others his hard work and positive support.

We are so happy to have the opportunity to share with our PWCF community about Kiran’s amazing season.  His heart and determination this season were so inspiring, to his teammates, to his coaches, and of course to us his family.  It’s not always easy to see how an individual with low-tone and who is metabolically challenged can succeed in running, or other sports for that matter, but yet anything is possible with the right mindset and the right support.  Finding the right team and the right coach(es) is paramount, and Kiran has been so fortunate to have had both.  We do believe the benefits of being on a Track or Cross Country Team are too numerous to count, and go well beyond the obvious fitness benefits.  Kiran proudly identifies himself as a runner and as an athlete, and starting in September as a coach.  He will be leading PWCF’s Free Training Series again this year, a free and fun fitness oriented social gathering that will lead up to the Aquarium of the Pacific 5k.  Hope to see you there!


Written by Rodney Dong, PWCF Board Member