TALLMADGE, OH (WOIO) - The friendship between two sixth-graders is inspiring others for the upcoming Cleveland Triathlon.
The event will raise funds and awareness for United Cerebral Palsy.
12-year-old Rachel Prior is doing the triathlon for two; towing, pushing and pulling her best friend Ethan Farthest, who has cerebral palsy.
"He can't do it and I can," said Rachel, "and it makes him happy and makes me happy."
The pair received donations from the Allemande Lions Club to make their race happen. They gave Rachel a bicycle and trailer for the biking portion of the event. The trailer converts to a jogging stroller for the 2K run. For the swim portion, Rachel tows a raft carrying Ethan.
"She just enjoys being with him," said Kelly Prior, Rachel's mother. "She doesn't do it to be a special cause."
Ethan also has autism and is non-verbal. He communicates that he's having fun by laughing and smiling.
"He likes to go fast. He likes to reach out of the boat and splash," said Rachel.
Rachel and Ethan have been friends since second grade, and Rachel's mother said she helps other kids see that Ethan loves the same things as they do, just with a little help.
"She looks out for him, she worries about him, she likes to share stories about him with friends and help people get to know him better and be comfortable around him," she said.
"People with disabilities aren't just people who can't do things, they're people just the way they are and everyone is equal," said Team Ethan member Anna Gallagher.
Team member Anna Diesel agrees that Team Ethan will, "show that people like Ethan can do things too and just be a part of a team and a community like this."
Ethan's younger brother Caleb and his mother Sarah Farthest expressed the good Team Ethan is doing.
"It's phenomenal, and I'm really glad that Rachel's helping Ethan," said Caleb.
"He's right in it, he's with the kids," said Farthest. She noted in the past that others have done things for Ethan, but no one has done something with him.
"He's out there at every practice and he's able to do it and interact. It's inclusion at its best," she said.
Team Ethan member Kane Corner summed up their efforts, saying that what they're doing reaches out and makes a difference on a larger scale.
"This is changing the world," said Kane.
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