Brockville – Liam Bakker, 21 has a rare disorder called KIAA2022. He is currently the only male in Canada diagnosed.
Liam had a chance to participate in the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run held on Friday, June 8th in Brockville thanks to his running buddy, William Flynn from the United States.
The two were matched up online through the Facebook group “I Run For Michael” (IR4). Their mission statement says that they foster relationships and want to see runners and buddies alike experience the profound power of encouraging and being supported by people who were once perfect strangers.
“Running can just be about health. Or it can be about dedicating our miles to and creating awareness for our buddies with special needs whose conditions span the spectrum from total physical disability to developmental delays to autism spectrum disorders, as well as myriad rare conditions we’re only now learning about thanks to our participation in IR4.”
Liam’s mother, Kirsti Bakker said, “William and Liam were paired almost 2 years ago. William runs several marathons a year, and even ran a marathon in Austin Texas in Liam’s name. The 2 families decided to meet, and picked June 7 – 9 to meet. It also coordinated with the annual torch run.
The Facebook group was launched as a private group of 10 runners and buddies with special needs (20 total) who shared workouts and health updates in a private setting, IR4 rapidly grew to over 22,000 members and nearly 7,000 matches, with 3,500 athletes waiting, within 18 months.