From wheelchair to the Boston Marathon

In April, Williams Baptist cross country runner Alex Van Herpen competed in the prestigious Boston Marathon.

An incredible feat. Learning about his path to get there, it stopped me in my tracks.

Five years ago, Alex was bound to a wheelchair.

In January 2011, he was diagnosed with strep throat, the flu, and mono all within a two-week period. For five months, Alex was bound to a wheelchair. One day, he just got up and walked.

Medical experts had no explanation for any of it.

"I don't have any idea, that's just straight from God," Van Herpen said.

As a parent, Alex's mom, Randa Newman, became concerned.

"We took him to the emergency room one night and I didn't know if we would bring him home or not," Newman said.

Experts looked for answers.

"They did every test imaginable. He had spinal taps, he had blood  work, he had x-rays he had MRI's, but he just kept declining."

Fast forward and Alex is healthy again. He competed in basketball that December of 2011. Early 2012, he's playing baseball and just like that deja vu.

"Within about a week, less than that I was back in the wheelchair full time. I couldn't move my legs at all," Van Herpen said.

"We went up to Mayo Clinic, came back with no answers."

The next part makes you believe in miracles.

"I was playing in the youth praise band at the time and and we got up to play in our invitation song and and I just got up out of the chair and played it."

So let me get this right. You couldn't move your legs had no feeling in them and then you go to church and then all of a sudden you walk up and you're playing an instrument?


Do you think there's a miracle in there somewhere?

"Yeah, all of this is."

"If someone brushed up against my leg or tried to pinch me I couldn't feel that."

Alex wants to compete in sports again. Instead of physical sports, he took up cross country and wound up competing for Williams Baptist.

That takes us to present day, competing in the Boston Marathon.

"A lot of times I'll tear up just thinking of the difference of then and now," Van Herpen said.

"All I saw was my two-year-old little boy. Running, running to the finish line and of course, I cried," Newman said.