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Heart pushing legs
Farragut’s ex-UT All-American, 5K champ, motivated by son’s challenge

Stewart Ellington could have easily run from his Farragut home to the site of Saturday’s inaugural Breakthrough Ribbon Run For Autism off Parkside Drive.

But this four-time All-American distance runner at The University of Tennessee (1992-96) put all his energy into winning the March 10 fund-raising run along Turkey Cove Lane.

There was plenty of motivation.

“We’ve thought our son had autism for about a year, then more and more we’ve learned he’s kinda got an Asperger Syndrome versus functioning autism spectrum,” Ellington said about his 3-year-old son, Grey, minutes after beating a few hundred fellow runners (15:08).

However, Ellington said the news about Grey “was a little bit validating, things always seemed a little harder in our house than others. When we learned it wasn’t just us or him, it was an actual disorder, then it made things a little bit easier.

“We’re starting to get a little help to get him some progress.”

The event included dozens of one-mile Fun-Run and Fun Walk participants. “It’s just great to see other people with the same disorder trying to do something about it, trying to advance a little bit,” Elllington said.

A nurse aesthesis working out of five clinics — mainly Parkwest Medical Center — Ellington has won other fund-raising distance running events since 2006: Dogwood Classic 5K, Fireball 5K, Autumnfest 8K and Farragut Fall 5K (Mayor Bob Leonard Park).

“I’ve just started running seriously again for about a year, I’m getting back into shape,” he said. “I’ve tried to quit the running thing four or five times, but it’s a good outlet for me.”

The Breakthrough course ran through The Cove, a subdivision still under construction with its Turkey Cove Lane entrance running adjacent to Regal Cinema’s Pinnacle 18 Theater.

Ellington’s best NCAA meet finish as a Vol was fourth in the 5K (indoor). “I had the number one time in the country in nineteen ninety-five (10,000 meters) for an American in college (29:04),” said Ellington, also a four-time academic All-American.

Wellington and wife, Tammy, also have a 1-year-old son, Reid.


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