The Herald Bulletin

October 27, 2013

Mud, sun and friends

Participants in cross country challenge say next year will be even better

By Traci L. Moyer
The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — Eli Young was the first to hit the last leg of a three-kilometer obstacle course in Falls Park. He cringed when the icy water splashed up into his face.

Austin Dunn, 16, Pendleton, was the last to complete the course and hesitated briefly before diving through a straw tunnel.

“I’m just a little cold,” Dunn said after the event sponsored by the Best Buddies program.

Caleb Harrington, 12, Markelville, said he liked it – even though he got drenched.

“It was like a puzzle you had to put together,” Harrington said.

The boys were three of the four teenagers brave enough to participate in the obstacle portion of the Best Buddies Community Respect Walk/Run Cross Country Challenge. More than 25 other participants chose to walk the course and avoid the freezing water.

Both groups said they enjoyed themselves and many said they will return next year.

Sarah Smith, Pendleton, is a resource teacher for Pendleton High School and assisted with the event on Sunday. She said the event was to help raise awareness for the Best Buddies program.

“It was just for fun,” she said.

Best Buddies pairs students with and without intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“The primary purpose is to allow people with disabilities to have positive interactions with people in the community,” she said.

Two years ago, the event was in the spring and had 20 runners, but Smith said they want to keep the event in the fall and think it will grow.

Thelma Hinshaw, Anderson, said she has a granddaughter in the program and likes to volunteer whenever she can.

“This is one of the best programs out there for those with special needs,” she said. “The kids just love it.”

Like Traci L. Moyer on Facebook and follow her @moyyer on Twitter, or call 648-4250.