Most fathers like to share their hobbies with their sons. But for José Manuel this proved a challenge – given that his fourth child Pablo suffers from a severe form of cerebral palsy.
Despite this, however, José Manuel had idea.
“I don’t remember when we began to run together. I know that the first time was in the summer. I was getting ready to go out for a run, but neither my wife nor children could stay to take care of Pablo. So I decided I could take him with me,” José Manuel Roas Treviño told CNA.
Even though José Manuel said he did not know if Pablo would like the experience or not, he quickly demonstrated that he did: “He sat up straight in the chair and when he does that it means ‘okay,’ because it takes a huge amount of effort to keep sitting up straight.”
“We were running down a nearby bicycle lane and he was totally into it, he was laughing, shrieking, lifting up his arms. I was singing to him and he was laughing more and more. And I realized that what we were experiencing was very special.”
Pablo is 18 years-old and is affected by acute cerebral palsy, which makes him completely dependent on his parents, José Manuel and Maite. He cannot speak or walk, nor he will be able to in the future. But for his parents, Pablo far from being a burden, is a gift.
“I thank God every day for Pablo and for this life story that God is having us experience. Because when he was born, a wall certainly was raised up with all the limitations that appeared, because you were presented with a terrible life.”
“But for me, I live it every day in the first person, this still is surprising. God has given us a complex life story to live but he also helps us to go forward with it and to do it with hope, with a sense of humor.”
“Because I too have looked the other way from those who had children in their cars like Pablo and my heart just recoiled.”
José Manuel recalled the time he was preparing to become a special ed teacher. One morning in November of 1988 I sat down to study and the subject was cerebral palsy. At that instant I was frightened and I remember I literally said, “My God, what am I doing? You’re not preparing me to have a child like that, are you?”
“And I was so scared that that same day I quit preparing for those exams, and I started another major.”
José Manuel does not deny that the sufferings are “enormous, more than I had ever imagined” but he stressed that “it is suffering that you get much more out of than what you lose. God is near the weak, and Pablo is certainly the weakest there is.”
“We find in him things you don’t find anywhere else such as love and forgiveness of the purest sort.”
This father also commented that “there are very hard days, like I never in my life thought of, but it’s true that afterwards you discover who you are and also who God is, which is that which makes these impossibilities possible.”
That is why he insists that despite the difficulties his faith in God is stronger, thanks to Pablo.
“Yes, it’s precisely because of Pablo that we believe in God, because we are living the impossible. We’re a normal family that gets into fights everyday, and we’ve got our things…but where Pablo is concerned, our differences end. This is what unites us the most, and so for us Pablo is a blessing, he’s what draws us together.”
In addition, José Manuel emphasized how encouraging it is to see during races and marathons everybody wants to high five him, how the people applaud him during the race course and he lifts up his hands and laughs”… and he insists “It’s a miracle that we’re living and much more so to be able to share it with him.”
So far they has run six marathons: three in Seville, two in Madrid and one in New York, and he assures there are more races left to share.
For José Manuel and his entire family, having Pablo is “a true privilege, I say it with all my heart.”
By Blanca Ruiz