The Special Olympics are world-famous, so readers in Columbia surely are aware of the organization, which sponsors competitions for athletes with intellectual disabilities compete in a range of sporting events. While the Special Olympics has made a positive impact on so many people’s lives, a man with Down syndrome recently showed that he could compete in strenuous mainstream athletics as well.
The man, 48, became the first person with Down syndrome ever to finish the New York City Marathon earlier this month. He completed the 26.2 mile race in a little more than eight hours. He ran alongside his longtime friend, a woman he met through Best Buddies, a program that introduces people with intellectual disabilities to people who do not.
According to the Huffington Post, the man was inspired to take up distance running when his roommate ran a 5K. He and his friend later did a 5K together, and went into training for marathons.
They completed the Los Angeles Marathon earlier this year, but finishing the New York race makes him a part of history. On the personal level, running has been very beneficial to him, his friend said. Besides losing 69 pounds, his personality has opened up, and he has become more outgoing.
As they ran, he encouraged numerous other racers to keep going. He told them that if he could finish, so could they.
Executives at Best Buddies hope that the man’s success will be an inspiration for other people with disabilities, the Huffington Post reports.
Source: TODAY, “First runner with Down syndrome finishes NYC marathon,” Melissa Dahl, Nov. 4, 2013