Margo (and Peter)

Margo (and Peter)

Margo laced up her sneakers and got in one last stretch as the final seconds ticked by. She took a deep breath, soothing the pre-race adrenaline surging through her body. As she prepared to take off, she reminded herself why she was running in the first place...Peter. 

The jolting beep of a horn signaled the start of the race, shaking Margo’s jitters and sending her flying down the main drag of Woods Hole. Strong summer sunshine beat down on the gravel course as it wound its way over bumpy terrain, but Margo persevered. Despite the Falmouth Road Race’s scenic landscape and panoramic ocean views, the 10k is no easy feat. 

“The hardest part of the race was about ¼ mile from the finish line. It was a crazy unexpected hill that I dreaded going up. When I saw my mom and sister on the sidelines at that point, it really gave me the fire to finish strong!” 

And that she did. Margo reflects on the moment she crossed the finish line with a sigh of relief, recounting an immediate sense of accomplishment and pride.

“That’s the best part of running for me. You get the satisfaction of running seven miles, but you still have the whole day ahead of you. It just gives you a huge feeling of accomplishment.”

Margo Coppes was one of 10 Falmouth Road Race participants who fundraised and ran on behalf of May Institute. As an avid runner with a cross-country background, Margo looks for any chance to tackle such a beautiful and challenging course. As the sister of an individual with special needs, Margo wasted no time registering for the race as a #TeamMay runner. 

Margo’s ties to May Institute go beyond her participation in the Falmouth Road Race. Her younger brother, Peter, is a residential student at May Center School for Autism and Developmental Disabilities in Randolph, Mass., and has been a key member of the community since his first day in 2015. Referred to by many as “The Mayor of May,” Peter brings an air of good humor to all his interactions. 

“He’s really funny,” says Margo of her brother. “He loves to imitate what people do on TV. His favorite movie is Elf, and he’ll copy the things people say and act them out in front of the family. He just has such a big, goofy personality.” 

She was three years old when Peter was born, assuming her title of the baby of the family. She expected a clingy, annoying little brother who would consume the attention of her parents in his baby and toddler years. While she was correct in her initial assumption, Margo started to notice a difference in Peter as he grew out of the toddler stage. 

“When you’re a little kid and your parents have a baby, that baby requires so much attention. He didn’t have any challenges at that point, but he still required the most attention because he was so young. To me, it felt like he never grew out of that. He’s always required that same level of support and attention.” 

Peter’s direct care staff and teachers have made it a point to offer activities centered around cultivating independence and becoming more self-sufficient. He participates in weekend outings, engaging with his community by dining at restaurants, visiting museums, and much more. By spending time out in the community, Peter has been able to sharpen his social skills, returning to his residence as a more independent and experienced individual. 

Margo sighs at a question she receives often. “It’s all I have ever known. Even though he looks different, and he acts different, there’s no difference in how we interact as siblings. I wouldn’t want it any other way!”

There’s bickering, name calling, and at times typical sibling contention, but at the end of the day their strong bond and unwavering love reign supreme. Although Peter considers his May Institute residence his home, he looks forward to reconnecting with Margo and eldest sister Caroline every other weekend. 

On his most recent birthday, his sisters picked him up and the trio made their way to Peter’s favorite place, the trampoline park! They spent the afternoon leaping and flying through the air, finishing the day off by refueling at Peter’s preferred fast-food chain, Wendy’s. He ordered his dream birthday meal: a hamburger with no bun, large fries, and an orange soda. 

“It was Peter’s perfect day! He got the chance to do two of his favorite things, and then went home to celebrate with his friends at the residence.” 

Peter’s birthday outing was one of the many out-of-residence experiences that Peter loves so much. The opportunity to venture into the community and learn valuable social skills has deeply benefited Peter and allowed him to grow and develop across many facets of his life. His remarkable progress over the course of his time at May is evident to Margo, and compelled her to fundraise in support of new and exciting community outings for Peter and his peers. 

“He is such a different person since he’s arrived at May. He has been there for seven years, and he’s matured a lot on his own, but it’s mostly because of the school and the teaching there.” 

The older sister, younger brother bond in the Coppes sibling case is deeply rooted in feelings of protection, love, and understanding. Peter was unaware of Margo’s participation in the race, but she wants him to understand her reason for running. 

“I want him to know that this race was a sign of support. I am committed to showing my support in all ways, and that is why I continue to be so active in the May community.” 
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