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Legally blind man pushes autistic teammate in race chair at Marine Corps Marathon, defies odds

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Michael G. Davis and Ashton McCormick after running the Marine Corps Marathon.
Michael G. Davis and Ashton McCormick after running the Marine Corps Marathon.

Michael G. Davis and Ashton McCormick made the perfect team to participate in this year’s Marathon. Davis, who is legally blind, and McCormick, who has autism, finished the race together.

“I do it for the kids like Ashton – I’m not racing for myself,” Davis said.

The duo adopted the name “Team Pretzel Hands,” due to McCormick’s love for pretzels. During the race, he placed a pretzel between each crevice on both hands.

Davis, a North Suffolk resident and avid marathon runner, said pushing the race chair was no easy feat. He was essentially pushing more than 220 pounds, factoring in McCormick and the chair’s weight, for more than six hours.

Despite the grueling run, McCormick said, “it was fun.”

Major Kim “Rooster” Rossiter, president of Ainsley’s Angels, served as Davis’ guide by running slightly ahead of the pair to clear the way.

The team ran for Ainsley’s Angels, an organization where marathon runners race with children with special needs. McCormick had the race chair decked out in red and pink in honor of the organization’s colors.

Davis and McCormick first met through Team Hoyt, which is similar to Ainsley’s Angels, in the spring of 2012.

Originally, McCormick was very reserved.

“He wasn’t very social with people outside of immediate family,” said Jennifer McCormick, Ashton’s mother.

However, since Ashton started racing, he’s started to come out of his shell.

“He loves the crowds at races,” she said.

“He’s more social and more active,” said Holden McCormick, Ashton’s younger brother. “He eats more pretzels.”

Ashton has also raced in a handful of one-milers and 5K races. Jennifer said he always has his iPod speakers in hand when he runs.

To prepare for the marathon, in addition to training with Ashton in the race chair, Davis also trained with Holden, who is a cross country runner at Western Branch High School.

Growing up, Davis recalled being limited in what he could do because of his disability.

“When I was younger, I wasn’t allowed to do sports,” he said.

This eliminated the idea of running in his mind for years, until he came across Team Hoyt.

Davis ran his first marathon in 2010, but his mother wasn’t too fond of the idea originally. She feared for his safety and health, Davis said. However, ever since then, he has been on a roll.

He has participated in the Boston Marathon, Marathon and other notable marathons around the nation.

Davis thoroughly enjoyed racing with Ashton and plans to continue racing with him for the foreseeable future.

“It was really special for me,” Davis said.

Reneka, Davis’ wife, and Jennifer love the friendship Michael and Ashton have established.

“It’s awesome seeing how happy Michael and Ashton are,” Reneka said.

“They are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for,” Jennifer said.

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