Fausto Esparza was a successful Mexican cyclist. He was national champion, first place in Juegos Centroamericanos and fifth in Panamericanos. His passion and commitment for cycling was such that in the Tour of the Gila, dropping to 90 kilometers per hour on a slope, he attempted to reach his rival but instead suffered a dramatic decline. That caused him a spinal cord’s fracture leaving him on a wheelchair. Today, 9 years later, Fausto still moving, now in a chair from where he is ambassador of the Wings For Life Challenge 2017.
Fausto, how were yo able to overcome the fact of abandoning cycling because of your accident? How hard was it and what does de WFL Challenge represents for you?
It was a very complex process to understand and learn to live because my fracture was in the whole spinal cord and everything implies that that injury is really hard. From the lower part of my chest I can't move, can't feel and I’m not in control of absolutely nothing. I have to learn again how to be independent, how to be autonomous, to move with my wheelchair independently and do almost everything.
Since the Wings For Life Challenge was carried out in México it got my attention, mainly because of the effort that the foundation had in order to search for a cure of the spinal cord injury. Last year the event was in Zapopan and I gladly decided to participate in my wheelchair independently. For this year, I will be at it again. I am very excited about it, to be able to support, motivate and be an ambassador for this year's edition. I invite you all to participate because it is a pretty different career where the goal has no limit, the limit is set by everyone’s will. Any person with any feature can participate and that is the only thing you need to enroll.
There are people who may have a biggest difficulty to accept it and deal with it, a kind of mental block. What do you say to those people?
I tell them that there are no limits, those only exist in their heads. You can be living a real constraint like the one that I have that is that i am not able to run with my legs, but the limit is only there if I let it, because I can actually run, but I do it with my wheelchair.
The important thing is to change the way you think. If you cannot walk, doesn't mean you can't move. That is the greatness of the Wings For Life Challenge; there is no real problem of how much you run, the main thing is that you start it and realize that those limits you believe to have are only n your head.
You think that this race can serve to the people who uses a wheelchair, to change their life style?
You can change the mentality and the lack of culture that we continue to live in that persons with disabilities in general cannot move. Users (in wheel chairs) could even meet peers with similar disabilities with whom you can share experiences and motivate between each other.
With your own properties, attend the race, last year we were approximately 20 runners on wheelchairs, hopefully this year everyone will feel welcome, because this race is about inclusiveness.
The fact that you were an athlete perhaps makes it different for you. What experience has the Wings For Life Challenge left you?
Oh it has left me a lot, because I had not participated in a race since i am a user (wheelchair), what I like the most is to share my experience and to invite everyone to do so. The fact that thanks to an international foundation, we are running in 30 different cities and we all run for an altruistic cause, it truthly makes me happy.
Finally… What would you say to wheelchair users to encourage them to participate in the Wings For Life Challenge 2017?
I want to tell them to sign up for the race, that they understand and realize that the fact that moving in a wheelchair is not a limiting factor for not running. The only limiting factor is to not register, so feel welcome and lets seek to add as people with a disabilities and began to change the mentality ourselves. Lets begin to dismiss the belief that we can’t move, that we can’t go out to the streets, that we can’t enjoy a Sunday morning with others only because we move differently.
Nothing happens if some move in a wheelchair and others move with their feet, we all move.