Amanda Wolf hand cycles Indy Marathon, raises over $20,000 for World Vision


When Amanda Wolf was diagnosed with sacral agenesis, she never let it stop her from participating in sports.

At a young age, Wolf took up swimming, skiing, and competed in nationals for World Wheelchair Sports.

“My parents never let my disability cloud that process of ‘she can do it,’” Wolf said. “It might not be like everybody else, but you’re still completing that task.”

Ironically enough, the one thing Wolf didn’t like growing up was biking.

“My mom loved biking and I hated it as a kid,” Wolf joked, looking back on it now.

The reason it’s funny is because Wolf just completed her third half marathon this Saturday at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, and she did so by hand cycling.

Not only did she hand cycle 13.1 miles on Saturday, but she did so for Team World Vision, which is an organization that provides clean water in the developing world. Since 2011, World Vision has helped establish lasting access to clean water for 28.4 million people.

Wolf set out a goal for the Indy Marathon of raising $20,000 to go toward clean water, and she wound up officially raising $21,276. She knows of a few more donations that could be made, so that number might increase as well.

As of now, that money projects to provide clean water to 425 people.

“We take advantage of taking a shower in the morning. We take advantage of getting cold, clean water from our fridge with a press of a button,” Wolf said. “It’s something so small that you don’t think about, but it truly is life changing when you’re drinking clean water.”

This is her third year with World Vision, and she got started with it thanks to Chrissy Hubers and Annie Ferret, who both just ran the Chicago Marathon one month ago for World Vision.

In 2020, Hubers was going to do the Comrades Marathon, which is the world’s largest ultramarathon at 55 miles. But due to COVID-19, she didn’t get to go to it. Instead, World Vision helped Hubers run a Comrades Marathon in Seymour that year.

Originally, Wolf didn’t think it was for her, but she changed her mind when Hubers completed that task.

“If Chrissy could do 55 miles, surely I could do 13.1,” Wolf said. “So that started the conversation.”

For her first half marathon here in Seymour two years ago, Wolf set out a goal of $10,000. If someone raises that much, they get a free World Vision jersey to go along with it.

Wolf said to Ferret at the time, “Why would I buy a jersey when I can just get a free one after raising $10,000?”

The amount seemed high, but Wolf managed to raise over $15,000.

Her success in raising money there is why she aimed even higher this year. She sends out postcards to her family’s Christmas card list and mostly gets donations from friends and family.

When Wolf got the email last week that she met her goal, she screamed with excitement.

As Wolf was preparing for her first couple half marathons, she debated using a wheelchair instead, but a family friend had a hand bike she was able to use.

“It was hard at the beginning but as your body gets used to it, it’s all about the training and endurance portion of it,” Wolf said. “What keeps me going is raising the money for clean water. There’s obviously days where I would rather stay in bed than go out and do those long miles and train. What keeps me going is the mission.”

Some of the statistics that affected Wolf when she first learned about World Vision is the reason she wanted to dedicate herself to this mission for clean water.

One stat that Wolf specifically remembers is that nearly 1,000 under the age of five die every day because of contaminated water.

“They don’t even have the chance to live because they’re drinking dirty water, and it’s not even in their house. They walk a 6K on average to go get it,” Wolf said.

It’s what kept her going this Saturday, where even though Wolf prayed it wouldn’t rain on race day, she didn’t get her wish.

“The wind and rain were not ideal weather for a race, but the reason my team and I were doing this was what literally kept me going knowing clean water was going to change lives forever,” she said. “There were moments during it, where I thought my arms had enough and I couldn’t imagine pushing any further, but I would remember that others are tired of walking to get dirty water, that I can push through and make it through to the finish line. The wind gusts at times, I felt like my bike was being pushed sideways, and the rain at times was hard and I was squinting to see ahead of me and not to accidently run anyone over.”

Not that Wolf cared too much about her time, but she improved her finishing time by at least 10 minutes compared to her previous half marathon. According to the Indy Monument Marathon’s website, Wolf was the first female half marathon wheelchair racer.

World Vision had another great showing this Saturday as well. The Point and Friends Team raised $118,790 and Team Indy is currently over $360,000.

It’s a family atmosphere when you’re a part of World Vision. Everyone is racing toward the same goal and believes in the mission World Vision has set out for.

Just like when Wolf was growing up, she may not be running 13.1 miles like everyone else does, but she won’t let that stop her from making a difference to people all around the world.

“All of our teammates are so encouraging. People that you go by, they’re encouraging you as you go,” she said. “We’re all doing it for the same purpose and we’re all encouraging each other because we’re out there for the same reason — end the water crisis with World Vision.”

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