Reading, writing and running

Reading, writing and running

Melissa Raguet-Schofield is a veteran trail runner and ultramarathoner. The Peoria native and former Champaign-Urbana resident who now lives in Fort Collins, Colorado, has run more than a dozen ultramarathons, including many 50-mile races and one 100-mile race.

Her big race this summer is not an organized event, but one she has created and will run on her own to help kids like her 7-year-old son Will, who is dyslexic.

“As I was trying to plan the summer, this dyslexia tutoring we take Will to is pretty expensive. I was thinking, I can’t justify signing up for race, because that’s a week or two weeks of dyslexia tutoring,” she said.

Blog PhotoShe decided to create her own adventures of camping and running, and then she thought about doing a run to raise awareness of the importance of getting help early for dyslexia and to raise money for the center where Will receives tutoring. The Children’s Speech and Reading Center is a nonprofit organization in northern Colorado that provides speech and reading interventions on a sliding pay scale, so no one is turned away, she said.

“They rely on donor contributions for this, so it’s pretty important because cost is a huge barrier to kids getting help,” Raguet-Schofield said. “When your family doesn’t have means and resources, it’s harder for kids to succeed and to really learn how to read.”

The family moved to Colorado from St. Louis about the time Will was entering school. They have been dismayed at the lack of support for dyslexic-specific reading interventions from his school district there. Will was identified as a struggling reader and worked with a reading specialist. But the help he was getting wasn’t specific to dyslexic children, and it didn’t improve his reading.

“He couldn’t do the things the other kids were doing, but it was always, ‘Wait and see.’ With dyslexic kids, it doesn’t help them to wait and see. They just get farther and farther behind,” she said.

She first realized he was dyslexic following his first-grade year, when he still couldn’t read a pre-school level book. She asked him to explain what makes reading so hard for him.

“He said, ‘Mommy, I can see the letters and know what sounds they make, but I can’t put them together in right order in my head,’” she said. “Trying harder is not going to put those sounds together in the right order in his head.”

Blog PhotoWill now works twice a week with a reading specialist at the Children’s Speech and Reading Center who uses an instructional approach for people with reading problems associated with dyslexia.

“He’s improved dramatically. He went from a non-reader to now sort of able to read chapter books,” Raguet-Schofield said. “It’s extremely slow and laborious and it’s still pretty frustrating for him, but he has improved dramatically. We still have a long way to go.

“Even more important than his reading gains, his self-esteem has improved dramatically,” she continued. “It was like a light bulb going off, or a switch being flipped in his self-confidence.”

Raguet-Schofield created a gofundme page for her charity run with the goal of raising $1,000 for the Children’s Speech and Reading Center. She met that goal within hours, then raised the goal to $2,000. She’s surpassed that as well, with donations now totaling more than $2,600.

Raguet-Schofield planned her run for late June on the Colorado Trail, which runs almost 500 miles across the state, from Denver to Durango. She did a 50-mile race on parts of the trail last summer. The trail, which she described as singletrack and rocky, is divided into 28 segments, and she will run three of them for a total of 43 miles.

“They are relatively close to home and they are going to be challenging to me, but they’re not extremely dangerous. Some of the trail goes to really high elevations,” she said.

She’ll have about 8,000 feet of elevation gain during her run. Her husband Rob -- also an ultrarunner and a Danville native -- and Will plan to meet her at various points along the trail, and some friends may run portions of it with her.

“I’m not concerned with my time or how well I do. It’s just going to be a long day in the mountains,” Raguet-Schofield said. “I thought this would be an appropriate thing to do, because this whole time I’ve felt like I’m alone in the wilderness, not knowing what to do, not being able to help my kid. It’s been hardest thing I’ve ever been through, to see your kid helpless and not being able to do anything.”

Joining a dyslexia support group and connecting to parents on social media has helped Raguet-Schofield find others who are going through the same thing with their children.

“When I posted the gofundme page, I realized there were people supporting me all along,” she said. “It just felt like I was alone.”


Jodi Heckel, a writer for the University of Illinois News Bureau, is a runner, swimmer and triathlete. You can email her at, or follow her at Her blog is at


On the web:

Go to for Melissa Raguet-Schofield’s gofundme page for her charity run.

 Photos: Top: Melissa Raguet-Schofield and her son Will run on Towers Trail in the Horsetooth Mountain Open Space near Fort Collins, Colorado. Bottom: Melissa and Rob Raguet-Schofield with their son Will at the Waterton Canyon Trailhead, the start of the Colorado Trail outside of Denver. Photos provided by Melissa Raguet-Schofield.   

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