The Spartan Foundation and Autism Speaks will team up on Saturday, May 13, at Citi Field in New York City, where young athletes with autism and other disabilities will participate in Spartan Race’s “Special Spartans Race.” One of 15 such obstacle-course races around the country, the Special Spartans Race is a special edition of Spartan’s obstacle course race, offering children and teens with intellectual or developmental disabilities a chance to develop skills, build self-esteem, and take pride in a physical achievement. The partnership advances Autism Speaks’ efforts to increase understanding and acceptance, and to offer a range of opportunities for people with autism, across the spectrum and throughout their life span.
Spartan stadium obstacle courses—which include climbing steep stairs, racing down narrow concourses with sharp turns, and facing tall walls, rope climbs, and monkey bars—require not only physical fitness but mental toughness. Navigating an obstacle course surrounded by cheering fans might seem overwhelming for a person with autism. The disorder, which affects an estimated 1 in 68 children, can hinder social interaction, interfere with communication, and cause repetitive behaviors or sensory sensitivities.
Completing the course takes determination—and sometimes a little support. The Special Spartans course is customized for young athletes with developmental disabilities as well as those with intellectual or vocational delays, thus enabling racers to gain a sense of inclusion and athletic accomplishment as well as a sense of community within the Spartan family. Special Spartans are paired with adult Spartan volunteers, who help them achieve each small victory along the way. At Citi Field, there will also be a sensory-friendly area, where participants and their families can take a break from the action.
“We believe everyone has the right to be healthy and participate in fitness activities, including the next generation and those that may otherwise not have the chance,” says Spartan Race founder and CEO Joe De Sena. “The Spartan Foundation is excited and proud to partner with Autism Speaks based on our shared goal to improve the well-being and health of children,”
Autism Speaks and The Spartan Foundation will offer the autism community up to 200 free entries to the Special Spartan Race, which can be requested at this link.
“From fostering an inclusive and empowering community to supporting partners such as Autism Speaks, the Spartan Foundation is committed to creating a healthy and bright future for the next generation,” says Dan Goldstein and Al Schreiber, Spartan Foundation co-directors.
Race for a Reason
As part of Spartan’s Stadium Series, the race at Citi Field will feature three different events: the Special Spartans heat; a Spartan Kids Race (ages 4-12); and a Spartan Sprint for adults (3-5 miles with 20 Spartan obstacles).
Turning the traditional grounds of America’s most beloved ballparks and stadiums upside down, Spartan Race Stadium Series events are fast and furious, blending the existing attributes of the facilities (inside and out) with the brand’s constructed obstacles. The adult races are timed and are official qualifying events for the 2017 Reebok Spartan Race World Championship taking place September 30 in Lake Tahoe, California.
To participate in the Spartan Sprint, athletes can register and fundraise through Autism Speaks’ Team Up program. To learn more about the Spartan Sprint or the Special Spartans Race, please visit Autism Speaks Team Up.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. We now know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences. An estimated 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum.
About Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. We empower people with autism and their families with resources, online tools and information covering the life span. To find resources, join a fundraising walk or make a donation, go to www.AutismSpeaks.org.
Spartan is the world’s largest obstacle race and endurance brand, and the first to feature timing and global rankings. With more than 200 events across more than 30 countries in 2017, Spartan Race will attract more than 1 million global participants offering open heats for all fitness levels, along with competitive and elite heats. The Spartan Race lifestyle boasts a community of more than 5 million passionate social media followers, health and wellness products, training and nutrition programs, and a popular NBC television series, which has made obstacle racing one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. Spartan Race events feature races at three distances: the 3+Mile/20+ Obstacle Sprint, the 8+ Mile/25+ Obstacle Super, and the 12+ Mile/30+ Obstacle Beast. The series culminates in the Reebok Spartan Race World Championship in Lake Tahoe. Visit Spartan Race for more information and registration.
The Spartan Foundation (TSF) is Spartan Race’s community outreach initiative that will address improved health, wellness, and personal development for children and young adults nationwide. TSF will generate funding and visibility to spotlight and support progress with organizations whose missions are in alignment with the Spartan principles of overcoming obstacles to enrich and accomplish one’s life goals.