SMITHFIELD—In July 2007 Brady Murray, then a local Blue Sox baseball player, had his whole world changed with the birth of his son, Nash, who was born with Down syndrome. Not only was it the beginning of a new life with a Down syndrome child, but it was also the start of a new mission for the Murray family, a way to raise funds to help other children with Down syndrome.
“I was playing for the (Blue) Sox. It was in between games, it was Wednesday and we had Tuesday/Thursday games,” Murray said. “From one game to the next my whole life changed. When Nash was born the doctor told me he had Down syndrome. I was scared and didn’t know a lot about it, but after spending a little time with him I found that this was going to be one of the greatest blessings of my life.”
Since Nash’s birth, the Murray family has been very active in the Down syndrome community. When they moved to Boise in 2008 they made friends with others who had Down syndrome children. It was through one of these friends that they were introduced to an organization called Reece’s Rainbow, an organization focused on adoption grants and advocacy for orphaned children with Down syndrome and other special needs.
It’s estimated that one in every 691 children in the United States and one in 733 children born worldwide have Down syndrome. In many cultures in countries across the world children born with Down syndrome are given up for adoption. It is estimated that there are over 8,000 children with Down syndrome waiting for adoption between Europe, Russia, and Asia.
Murray felt like he could do more for these children. He started RODS Racing – which stands for Racing for Orphans with Down syndrome – and it raises money by having people race in 5K, Sprint-Triathlon, or Ironman races. The money helps to cover the costs associated with adopting orphans with Down syndrome from other countries.
After being in an orphanage until the age of five or six, those left unadopted are checked into adult mental institutions. Seventy-five percent of the children left in adult institutions die within the first two years of being transferred there.
“After seeing pictures of these kids, reading and hearing about it, and having our hearts full we wanted to do something about it,” Murray said. “We started doing fundraisers and seeing great success. I decided to get a little creative and that’s where the idea for RODS Racing came from.”
An average international adoption costs $30,000-$40,000. Reece’s Rainbow found that there are many families eager to adopt and that most of these children would have homes if they could afford the adoption costs.
RODS Racing picks a child to focus on during the year and in working with Reece’s Rainbow raises the money for that child’s adoption. When the grant is filled another child is selected.
RODS Racing has raised $67,000 in the first eight months of being organized. A full grant for an international orphan, Eli (who is in Lithuania and in the process of being adopted by a family in Ohio), has almost filled grants for two more little girls.
“Triathlons kind of replaced my Blue Sox competitive side,” Murray said. Although he hasn’t met any of these children yet, he did have an opportunity to meet a little girl that is connected to Reece’s Rainbow.
“When I went to Peru and actually held one of these kids it was real, and I could feel that,” Murray said of visiting Peruvian orphan Maelie in Ferrenafe, Peru just last month. “Maelie was so beautiful and her smile made your heart skip a beat. She was such a happy little girl.”
Murray will be racing for these children on October 13 in the Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.
“It’s incredible to think that one person from Preston has this opportunity to help this kids,” Murray said. “It’s an opportunity afforded me to race. I’m very happy and grateful that I have an opportunity to make the most out of it.”
“Nash has been one of our family’s greatest blessings. I’ve learned two things in particular,” Murray said. “Down syndrome is not bad; Down syndrome is a huge blessing. Families that have an opportunity to have a child with Down syndrome shall consider that one of their biggest blessings. Nash is only five but he has talents and abilities, similar to others with Down syndrome. People, when on seeing and being around him, are naturally their best selves. They act on a different level, like they would around the President of the United States or someone they looked up to. That’s how they act around Nash, he has the ability to connect with people that way. People can feel his love, a pure genuine love while they are around him.”
“The second is the only thing standing in the way of them being adopted is the money,” Murray said. “If we can help them come up with the money there will be families for these kids.”
For more information about RODS Racing and Brady, visit <a target=”_blank” href=”rodsracing.org”>rodsracing.org</a> and <a target=”_blank” href=”http://onestepclosertohome.blogspot.com”>onestepclosertohome.blogspot.com</a>. Information about Reece’s Rainbow can be found at <a target=”_blank” href=”reecesrainbow.org”>reecesrainbow.org</a>.