Saturday mornings for the past four months have meant long, early morning runs for Westfield Middle School teacher Isaac McGaughey, who has been training for the 2023 Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8.
To qualify for the marathon, McGaughey chose to raise money for the National Down Syndrome Society, which has been a leader for the past 40 years in creating better opportunities for the Down syndrome community. He felt drawn to NDSS because of meaningful relationships he has with those who have Down syndrome.
McGaughey said he and the other WMS wellness teachers work hard to incorporate Life Skills students, some of whom have Down syndrome, into their traditional classes.
“Isaac does a great job of building relationships with kids in the classroom and in the gym,” said Doug Luce, WMS vice principal and athletic director.
Luce recalls McGaughey doing his student teaching at WMS in 2014. McGaughey made such an impression on school leaders that when a position became available, they hired him as soon as he graduated from Taylor University.
In addition to teaching wellness for the past nine years, McGaughey has coached football, girls’ golf, and track and field.
“Isaac is just a positive role model,” said Amy Abriani, fellow WMS track coach. “He really lives what he teaches.”
McGaughey said that marathon preparation has helped him become a better coach.
“It helps me relate to the kids,” he said. “Training is something that is really hard, and it’s not something I always want to do. I’m living through it in a marathon. My students are living through it in life.”
The NDSS team of runners still needs about $2,000 to meet their $40,000 fundraising goal. For more or do donate, visit give.ndss.org/fundraiser/4239969.