News Article Details

Mount Holly man, Atlanta teen spreading message of inclusion

Gaston Gazette - 12/15/2017

Dec. 15--Andrew Matznick and Jason Dorn aren't your typical running buddies. Dorn has cerebral palsy and although he might not be able to walk, he's not letting that stop him from running. One marathon at a time, the duo are demonstrating the importance of inclusion.

Dorn doesn't run in the traditional sense. He has a special wheelchair that he's pushed in. He cheers Matznick and the other runners on along the way.

"You get to mile 18, mile 22 when people are starting to struggle, he's always cheering me on and herding me, and everyone around him is giving him high-fives," said Matznick.

Recently, Matznick and Dorn ran together at the New York City Marathon. Before that, the two had only run in the Marine Corps Marathon together.

"The dumb bridge," said Dorn when asked what his favorite part of running is.

"They started this thing in the Marine Corps Marathon. As they're going over the bridge, they talk about the 'dumb bridge' and how tedious it is to get over it," explained his mother, Andrea.

Matznick, 31, is the director of program development at The Ability Experience, a nonprofit created by the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity. Ability Experience Challenges are events for people of all abilities, commonly 10k events and marathons. He is a resident of Mount Holly, a husband and father of two. He is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University and a member of Pi Kappa Phi. He loves the great outdoors.

For the most part, Dorn is a regular 19-year-old. He's a triplet who lives in Atlanta with his parents and one sister, Lexi. His other sister, Erica, is a student at Belmont Abbey College.

He goes to school. He's a little shy around strangers.

He loves baseball and participates in The Miracle League, a baseball league for those with disabilities.

He recently attended the Winter Meetings and, every year, attends the spring trainings.

"I go to the winter meetings. I love to go," said Dorn.

The two met through Kyle Thomas.

Thomas first met Dorn in 2005 during a stop in Alpharetta, Georgia, on his bicycle ride with Journey of Hope, a part The Ability Experience, which serves individuals with disabilities.

Through Journey of Hope, members of Pi Kappa Phi cycle across the country, making stops in different cities along the way along the way.

Thomas was Jason's buddy for the day. The two hit it off and in 2010, Thomas asked Matznick to run with he and Jason in the Marine Corps Marathon. The three had been running together until last year, when Kyle moved away.

Dorn enjoys his "guy time" with Matznick, away from his sisters.

"Jason's become like a brother to me and my wife. He's definitely a big part of our family and our kids, our kids are 2 and 3 and love Jason to death," said Matznick.

Dorn and Matznick will run the Publix Georgia Half Marathon in March, partnering with the Kyle Pease Foundation. During this event, about 40 people with disabilities will be able to participate like Dorn.

"We just love everything about it and watching him feeling so accomplished, too, at the end of the races. He always tells us he won the race," said Andrea.

The two have also applied for next year's Chicago Marathon and are waiting to hear back.

"A lot of (Dorn's) extended family hasn't seen him race. It'd be fun to get up there and do that race, too," said Matznick.

Because the two don't get to see each other often, Matznick often trains by himself. He runs often, and tries to run faster times during practice runs to compensate for the slow-down he'll experience when pushing Dorn. No matter how fast or slow, they're out to have fun and recognize the abilities of the disabled.

"One of the biggest things we're trying to promote as an organization as well as just the events Jason and I do is that message of inclusion," said Matznick. "It doesn't matter how different someone's abilities might be, they can still do different things."

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(c)2017 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

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