VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — At home in Florida, a woman knew she needed to find the two Hampton Roads runners.

She’d read about them — best friends Julia Prendergast and Tyme Fiedorczyk, who love to run together, with Julia pushing Tyme in a special chair. Tyme has cerebral palsy, and Julia is her caregiver, driving each day from Virginia Beach to Chesapeake to see her.

They’ve been relying on a loaner push chair, and started raising money to buy their own. The loaner weighs 30 pounds; Tyme, 105. And sometimes the women travel to races. A lighter, foldable chair would help.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

When Irene Koumendouros, in Tarpon Springs, read a Virginian-Pilot story about them, she knew she had the help they needed. She wanted to give them her nephew’s running chair.

“It’s as if I heard the Lord say to me, ‘You will be a double blessing to them,'” she says now.

The chair — a practically brand-new, high-end 2017 Hoyt Blade Racer — sat idle in a spare room of the family’s home. It’s aluminum, it disassembles, and it supports the body well. Koumendouros purchased it several years ago for her nephew, Alex Boudreau, who’s now 22. Like Tyme, he has cerebral palsy and is nonverbal.

His cousin, a marathon runner, had suggested the chair so she could push him and he could feel the thrill of the race. But things didn’t work out as planned. She married and moved away, Koumendouros said.

Boudreau, an artist with work in three Florida galleries, was strolled around the neighborhood in the chair but never participated in races. The family thought about selling the chair and posted it briefly on Facebook Marketplace.

All that changed as he and his aunt were touched by Julia and Tyme’s relationship, having seen their story at Disability Scoop, an online site for developmental disability news.

“All of the sudden the idea of selling it did not make sense,” Koumendouros says. “I felt the Lord said, ‘You want to do something really good with this — give it to these girls.'”

Not only did she donate the chair — valued at more than $5,000 — but she also paid to ship it to Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tyme’s mother, Kim Fiedorczyk, had started a fundraiser. She raised a little over $1,000 and has returned half. Some people wanted her to keep their donations, to go to chair accessories and race fees.

And Tyme and Julia are making plans.

“We’re really excited and we’ve signed up for all the races,” Julia said.

The duo planned to run the Crawlin’ Crab Half Marathon in Hampton on Oct. 2, but that was canceled as the remnants of Hurricane Ian approached.

Julia can’t wait to run and push Tyme in their new chair. And Tyme said she can’t wait to race.

“It’ll be easier to push and more comfy for Tyme,” Julia said.

Koumendouros hopes she and her nephew will one day be able to cheer them on from the sidelines. But they won’t be looking for that blue chair.

Julia and Tyme have already made it their own, spray painting it yellow and sprinkling it with glitter.

© 2022 The Virginian-Pilot
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Read more stories like this one. Sign up for Disability Scoop's free email newsletter to get the latest developmental disability news sent straight to your inbox.