Miles with a Meaning

It’s almost time for the 2020 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy! Who are you running with? Andrew Peterson, an elite runner, Special Olympics athlete and 500 Festival Running Ambassador will race toward the finish line at the 3-miler joined by his good friend Ali Thompson. Ali, like Andrew, has a passion for unified sports. Together, the two are working to raise funds and awareness for the 2020 Butler University Special Olympics Polar Plunge.

“The running community has been supportive of me, so giving back is important,” says Peterson. “I like encouraging new runners and training with them to increase their pace.”

We caught up with Ali before the big race this Saturday and she shared with us what training has been like and what she wants to accomplish from this event. Check out what she had to say below! 

How did you and Andrew meet?

Andrew and I met in 2014 while I was a freshman at Butler. I joined a club that worked with the Washington Township Special Olympics (WTSO) and we first met at a pizza party. Andrew, his brother and I were the only ones eating the gluten free pizza so we got to chatting and have continued that the last 6 years.

What motivated you to get involved with running?

I have participated in the Special Olympics Polar Plunge the last 5 years at Butler and I wanted to do something special for my last year to get people excited about raising money. I knew Andrew was a serious runner and Craig had always said if I wanted to get more involved with WTSO, to reach out so that’s what I did! It was important to me to do something that Andrew loved doing and that we could do together and this is what we came up with.

Why is this cause important to you?

I am a triplet and one of my brothers has Down syndrome. Dylan has participated in Special Olympics since he was little and I started volunteering at various Special Olympics events at age 10. The organization has such a special place in my heart because of the supportive and positive community it has created around these athletes like Andrew and my brother Dylan.

What would you like people to take away from what you’re doing?

The overarching message we are trying to promote is inclusion. My main reason for doing this was to raise awareness not only about people with intellectual disabilities, but also the amazing people and organizations who do so much to enhance their lives like Special Olympics.

What do you do outside of running?

I am currently in my last year of the PharmD/MBA program at Butler University and will graduate this May. Outside of school, I enjoy exploring the foodie scene Indianapolis has to offer and being curled up with a good book at home.

What are you looking forward to with the 3-miler?

I’m a generally active individual, but I have never competitively or leisurely ran in my life. I’m excited for the challenge this brings me to test my mental and physical toughness to finish the race. My first training run with Andrew, we ran 4 miles and it made me realize how quick the time goes by when you are running with a friend!

Online registration for the 2020 500 Festival Miler Series, presented by OrthoIndy and the 3-miler is currently closed. You can register in-person at the 500 Festival Office on Friday, February 7 from 11 am-2 pm or inside the Pavilion at Pan Am on Saturday, February 8 starting at 7:30 am.

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