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Temple to Temple 5K serves as backdrop for special reunion years in the making

Posted at 12:28 PM, Jul 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-24 14:28:49-04

PROVO, Utah -- Tuesday’s Temple to Temple 5K run for Pioneer Day served as the backdrop for a very special reunion.

It’s a story that begins with a tragedy but continues with a very promising outlook for the future.

While thousands of runners, joggers and walkers pounded the pavement this morning, Emma Sorensen was rolling along in a custom-built wheelchair.

Emma was critically injured in a bizarre accident back in 2000 when a tree fell on the Sorensens during a family reunion.

The accident killed her grandmother and her cousin, and left 4-year-old Emma paralyzed from the waist down.

Dale Pitts was a firefighter at the time and was among the first responders that day.

He also happened to have a side business designing bicycles and trikes for folks with mobility issues.

Dale wound up designing a special chair for Emma, knowing that she and her family are very active. Emma used and loved the custom chairs but quickly outgrew a couple of them.

The last one Dale built for her was put together about 10 years ago, and the two had not seen each other for about three years.

But on Tuesday Emma’s friends surprised Dale by rolling up to him while he watched relatives jog past.

Dale then pushed Emma the last couple hundred yards to the finish line before they shared a few moments together.

"It's hard to get a wheelchair past anything other than a little bump in the road, and they're outdoor people," Pitts said. "They're not waiting for it to come to them, they go out and find things and they do lots of adventures."

After taking a bit of a hiatus, Dale is now back to designing specialty wheelchairs after partnering up with a young man named Adam Beasley.

"So I just feel super lucky, and I think it's awesome that you guys are building more chairs so that more people can have the experiences I've had," Emma Sorensen said.

Together they are trying to help other folks like Emma who have mobility issues but also have a strong desire to live their lives to the fullest. Click here to visit Beasley’s website.