Destiny Buezo, 16, pictured second from left above, watched her four brothers finish their 1.5-mile sprints during the Rising New York Road Runners at the Fred Lebow Cross Country Championships – Stage 2 race Sunday in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. “She is always there to give support to her brothers,” said her father, Edgar.
The Buezo brothers—abover, from left, Damian, 13, Valentino, 8, Jovan, 15, and Kobe, 9—all crossed the finish line and received their medals as Edgar, his wife Lupe, and Destiny cheered. Then a special thing happened. Destiny, who has cerebral palsy and is in a wheelchair, also received a medal from NYRR President and CEO Michael Capiraso. Destiny yelled with joy, said Edgar, who said he hadn’t realized how much she had wanted a medal of her own until she received one. “It was something I had never heard in her,” he said. “She wanted it so bad and she got it.”
Edgar Buezo is the founder of East Harlem United Runners, a running club he began on August 24, Destiny’s birthday, in his daughter’s name. Destiny, said Lupe Buezo, has epilepsy, scoliosis, and astigmatism in addition to her severe cerebral palsy. She has endured back surgery, two hip surgeries, a stomach surgery, and several other procedures in the last 10 years, “and she always has a smile,” Edgar said. The family thought about starting a foundation for Destiny, but, Edgar said, “we have so much support.” Instead, they chose to show others that struggling—whether to raise a special-needs child or to finish a race—is worth it.
Right now, East Harlem United Runners consists only of the Buezo family. But Edgar has high hopes for it. “I would love to expand my family running team to grow as big as Harlem Run, WRU Crew, or the Boogie Down Bronx Runners,” he said, naming other popular running clubs nearby.
Edgar trains in Central Park, near the family’s home in East Harlem. He pushes Destiny in her wheelchair each weekend for four miles at a time. He hopes to push her in NYRR’s Achilles Hope & Possibility 5M in June. He wants her to experience the thrill of running just as her brothers do. “Since Destiny can’t walk and talk, I’ll be her legs, I’ll be her voice, and together we’ll run,” Edgar said. He looks forward to more opportunities to run with Destiny. “I want to give opportunity without restriction,” he said. “We are all equal—no matter how able—and we can do anything with help.”
Injuries kept Edgar from doing sports for two years. He began running in February. He did not start small; he had heady ambitions from the start. He completed the 9+1 this year and will run the 2020 TCS New York City Marathon. “My major goal is to finish the marathon and put that medal around my daughter’s neck,” he said. Lupe also runs, and their sons followed in their parents’ footsteps, competing in their first Rising New York Road Runners race in September. Sunday’s race was their fourth competition.
The Buezo boys have embraced running as much as their parents, pictured together above volunteering with NYRR, have. “It opens so much in them,” Edgar said of his sons’ running experiences. “It’s something so small but it brings so much light.”
Jovan is a freshman in high school and will try out for the track team this year. Damian, who is in eighth grade, is narrowing his high school search for next year to schools that have competitive track teams. Edgar, eager to encourage his sons’ dedication to the sport, asked the younger boys’ school, P.S./I.S. 171 The Patrick Henry Preparatory School in East Harlem, to start a Rising New York Road Runners program there. The school will begin the program in March, said principal Dimitres Pantelidis.
In less than a year of running, Edgar Buezo has created a family dynasty and given other local families opportunities to get healthier in the process. “I might not change the world,” Edgar said, “but if I could just change one person and make a difference, that’s a positive change.”