By Trajan Agrippa and Will Runk
If you are looking to be inspired, look no farther. Since childhood Yevgeniy Tetyukhin, Yev for short, has been testing the limits of what the human body and mind is capable of. Whether it’s competing in over 160 marathons, including 300+ mile super marathons, teaching linguistics, or defeating polio, inspiring people worldwide is just another day for Yev. But what makes his accomplishments so amazing is the fact that he has achieved all of this without the use of his leg.
While growing up in Kazakhstan, Yev was just a boy when he was diagnosed with polio. Now at 70 years of age, overcoming his disability has been a lifelong battle. Yev can recall a moment when his disability almost got the best of him. In a fit of anger, he threw his crutches to the ground, aimed his rifle and fired at the pieces of wood his father had fashioned for him from tree branches. Because when you ask Yev what has been his biggest challenge he has had to overcome, it isn’t his disability. “It’s overcoming my anger,” he says. With an honest smile on his face, he explains his life may not have been as interesting and may not have achieved as much had it not been for his disability.
What is Yev doing in Hawaii? He is a Fulbright Scholar and recently gave a speech at the Mānoa College of Education Center on Disability Studies (CDS) about disabilities. He will also conduct research, audit classes and compete in his 30th Honolulu Marathon. After the marathon he’s off to Guam to give a lecture.
On any given evening you can catch him training at the UH Manoa track long after the sun goes down. With a helmet on his head, glasses on his face and duct tape holding together his old racing-chair as he navigates the corners. With every lap comes a loud hoot and a hand raised high in the air as he speeds past. That’s Yev, the boy from Kazakhstan, living for every moment.