May 7, 2016 will mark the 40th OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon! As part of the celebration, we’re kicking off our new blog series, My #IndyMini Story. The series will feature the stories of 40 Indy Mini participants who will each share their unique, inspiring #IndyMini story. Our first My #IndyMini story comes from our 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon Pacesetters – the Colts Cheerleaders.
People participate in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon for any number of reasons. Some run to stay in shape, some run to relieve stress. The Indianapolis Colts Cheerleaders are participating in the 2016 Indy Mini to start a movement and rally around a former teammate.
Just over a year ago, Tessa David, a former Colts Cheerleader, suffered a severe stroke at the age of 28. An athlete who was in peak physical condition, Tessa’s stroke injured 60% of her brain and left her partially paralyzed. Her teammates, family and friends were in shock.
When the 500 Festival extended the challenge of serving as the official Pacesetters for the 2016 Mini-Marathon, the team enthusiastically accepted. For the team, running the Mini-Marathon was an opportunity to show their support for Tessa and raise awareness of the warning signs of a stroke.
On September 14th, the Colts Cheerleaders took to the streets of Indianapolis to run the Mini’s 13.1 mile course. The team was united around one goal: finish faster than the average finish time of the Mini-Marathon, 2:33. If they could beat this time, the 500 Festival would donate $5,000 to the National Stroke Association.
Fifteen members of the team came together to accomplish their goal and ran the Mini-Marathon route in 2:07, securing a $5,000 donation on behalf of their teammate, Tessa. Inspired by the team’s determination and teamwork, the Indianapolis Colts stepped up. For every Mini participant who beats the team’s time, the Colts will donate $1 to the National Stroke Association, up to $6,000.
In addition, the team’s time of 2:07 will be the official pace to beat for the 2016 OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon. The 500 Festival will donate $1 to a charity, voted on by the participants, for each person who is faster than the Colts Cheerleaders.
The team could have stopped there. They had secured up to $11,000 for the National Stroke Association, and laid the groundwork for donations to other charities. But they knew there was more work to be done.
So they decided to participate in the Mini-Marathon’s Mini with a Meaning program, which provides non-profit organizations with opportunities to raise awareness and funds through supporter participation. Participating on behalf of the National Stroke Association, the Colts Cheerleaders will run the route for the second time in one year, to continue to raise awareness and, more importantly, to demonstrate their support for Tessa, who will be at the finish line cheering them on along the way.
What started as a challenge to set the pace for the 2016 Mini-Marathon has led to so much more. Are you feeling inspired? You can join the Colts Cheerleaders on the Stroke Challenge team and run on behalf of the National Stroke Association. To learn more, click here.
What inspires you to participate in the 2016 Indy Mini? Leave a comment below and tell us #IndyMini Story!