Jason and Josh Iloreta put in the work for the Shamrock Run half marathon this Sunday in Portland, Ore.
They logged many miles together. They worked on strength, conditioning and endurance. They practiced and prepared.
“I think he’s more excited than I am,” Jason said.
Passion is good, but a little luck of the Irish never hurts.
The brothers from Kauai will be wearing green when they settle in at the starting line for the 13.1-mile race.“He’s got a whole outfit ready with shamrocks,” Jason said of Josh, who was born March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s pretty ridiculous, actually.”
Jason will be sporting a bit of green, too, including some tattoos, as he and Josh tackle their longest distance and their first competition on the Mainland.
It’s about more than finishing for the Iloreta brothers.
It’s about making society aware that people with disabilities, which Jason refers to as differences, can go beyond the limits many might place on them. It’s about raising awareness that with drive and determination, obstacles can be overcome.
Josh is proof of that.
The 26-year-old is not your typical marathon participant. He was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at birth, travels in a wheelchair and communicates with an electronic voice through a computer and keypad. He and Jason began entering local races in 2015, as Jason pushes Josh. Sunday, the nearly 100-pound Josh will be in a race-designed custom wheelchair that weighs about 35 pounds.
“We want people to see beyond the social stigma of disabilities and medical hardships,” 23-year Jason said. “If you allow someone to be their best self, you discover their ability to smile, to laugh, to have aspirations in life — these capabilities aren’t impaired.”
The Iloreta Brothers are running as Team “I Am My Ability” in an effort to go beyond diagnosis and redefine the differently abled by what they are capable of.
The brothers have competed on Kauai in support of their awareness campaign “I AM MY ABILITY, I AM not MY disABILITY.”
In the Old Koloa Sugar Mill 10K in November, they wore shirts that had the words “The only difference between you and I is that you say I can’t and I say I will” on the front. On the back, in large letters, it read, “I am my ability.”
To complete the half marathon The Iloreta Brothers will be teaming up with Kauai friend and University of Portland student, Lucas Gushikuma.
“Instead of him coming here, we’re flying to Portland,” Jason said.
They left Sunday, joined by a strong contingent of family and friends.
The brothers have plans for more adventure together.
“We’re just getting started,” Jason said.
Jason said they’re ready for the course that has plenty of hills throughout but is flat the final few miles. Jason added strength training to his routine, raised the intensity and duration of workouts and trained for fast finishes with trainer Pam Kruse.
“We did some different running workouts I didn’t do before,” he said. “And I’ve been running with Josh as well.”
The two have set their sights on a strong charge to the end and then, plan to party — like they’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. They are, just a bit early, with lots of smiles, laughter and knowing they have no labels and no limits.
What they do have, are abilities to keep pushing ahead together.