RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Every Spring, Ainsley's Angels of America participates in races all over the country but because of COVID-19, those races have been canceled so instead 1,200 runners and riders nationwide are participating in a June miles challenge.
"Everybody wants to be part of something and feel happy and joy again because it's been a little crazy," said Ainsley's Angels Central North Carolina Ambassador, Caitlin Espy. "Everybody I think wants to be a part of something now so it's been great to kind of start that through this June challenge."
"Special needs life is lonely and isolating anyways," said Dianne Ketchie. "This has helped us with our daily texts and check-ins. It just makes us know somebody is out there thinking of us and thinking about Grayson."
Dianne's son Grayson is medically fragile and hasn't been able to leave the house much because of COVID-19. She says it's important for him to be a part of a team right now.
"It's everything because it can be super isolating to be at home alone trying to keep him safe," she added. "To have something that cheers everybody up that's also connected to the outside has been a mood booster I think for all of us."
Teams are made up of one rider and two or three runners. Runners earn points by recording the miles they run or walk and riders earn points in various ways.
"I think it's really cool to be able to run with other people and maybe for other people that may not be able to," said Nick Meeker. "Being a part of a team is kind of nice again."
"We always show him the pictures that you guys send to us and I think he knows what's going on," said Ketchie. He seems to enjoy getting those messages too."
Ainsley's Angels of America said the purpose of the challenge is to give everyone a place to come together and celebrate inclusion.
"It's definitely giving me some motivation to get out there and run," Meeker said. "Running with someone like Grayson is kind of the best motivation you need there's that and meeting other people is really nice to be able to do."
"I had no idea that this many people were going to do it here," said Espy. "I thought maybe a couple riders would but it turned out theres a lot more involvement. I think people are excited to do something positive and runners don't have races to look forward to right now either."
Caitlin says they're already working on putting together a July Challenge. If you're interested in joining Ainsley's Angels you can do so by checking here.