Family embraces Mini with a Meaning


Jacob Stelflug can’t physically run on his own, so his father, Brad Stelflug makes certain he has that experience. 

“He gets to experience the cheers and all the support from the crowd, the support from the other runners, the high-fives and the camaraderie,” said Brad, whose family lived in Westfield for 26 years before moving to Noblesville in 2020.

Brad will push Jacob, 27, in a as part of the Ainsley’s Angels Indiana team in the 500 Festival One America Mini-Marathon May 4 in Indianapolis. The Mini with a Meaning connects nonprofits with passionate participants of the Mini-Marathon and Delta 500 Festival Dental 5K to raise awareness and funds.

“The Mini with a Meaning program allows us as a nonprofit to use our team as a platform for the needs we have throughout the years,” said Kristy High, a North Central Indiana ambassador for Ainsley’s Angels and senior ambassador director for Ainsley’s Angels of America. “The funds (help) to purchase and maintain our specialty equipment. Our specialty equipment is the special racing chariots (we) have to maintain. Those can be really pricey. It can be anywhere from $4,000 to $6,000. They are specially designed to be pushed by running.”

Jacob, 27, has FG syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes physical and mental delays. Nathan Stelflug, a 25-year-old former Westfield High School track and cross country runner, pushed his brother Jacob in the Boston Marathon April 15. Brad will push Jacob in the Mini-Marathon.

There are 39 teams slated for the Mini-Marathon and four for the 5K event. There is one rider with one or two pushers.

High said Ainsley’s Angels has been involved with the Mini-Marathon since 2017 and will be involved with Mini with a Meaning program for the third year.

“They are from all over the country, but the majority are coming from our North Central area,” said High, who lives in Russiaville.

High said when Ainsley’s Angels was accepted into Mini with a Meaning program, the national organization made it a destination race.

“We also use the funds to provide dinner with all the participants the night before, which is a chance for them to make new friends, forge new friends or catch up with old friends because they do come from all over,” High said. 

Brad said the Mini-Marathon embraces inclusivity and allows many duo teams to compete. The number of duo competitors is limited to 10 at the Boston Marathon.

“We run the Marine Corps Marathon (in Arlington, Va.) every year and they are very inclusive,” Brad said. “We had 40 chairs running in that one last year. Lots of marathons do it right and Boston just does it wrong.”

Brad, 55, started running marathons in 2002. They began running races in 2015 when Brad adjusted Jacob’s wheelchair. They got a racing chariot two years later.

“When I would finish a marathon, I would grab Jacob and push him across the finish line and let him get the medal,” Brad said. “The crowd would cheer him on. He liked that experience so much. I started pushing him in 5Ks. We just started running races together. It’s kind of our thing.”

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