Obstacle race inspires athletes, families, friends

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) — For parents of children with special needs, taking part in big events can be daunting.

“I think a lot of us feel isolated, as parents,” explains Jennifer Taggart.

Taggart’s 12-year-old son, Loren, is nonverbal. He has Autism and Apraxia. But Loren is seeing improvements in his daily living by working out at Fitness 4 Focus.

Fitness 4 Focus opened in 2010. Founder, Chris Russell, has gyms in Hershey, Lancaster, and Mechanicsburg. Every day, he helps athletes with special needs, like Loren, live a more independent lifestyle.

“We want to show families, starting in central PA, then the east coast and then hopefully throughout the U-S, that their special needs athlete can do a lot more,” says Russell.

As a way to help athletes set and accomplish goals, Chris and his staff created the “O2 Challenge.” It is an obstacle race where athletes feel challenged and families feel supported.

Looking back on the first O2 challenge in 2016, Taggart recalls feeling apprehensive bringing Loren to the event. “We thought we were going to have to leave in the first five minutes,” she explained.

But he excelled. Completing the 1.25-mile course, leaving Taggart stunned.

“It felt like something to really be proud of. For him and for us,” she says.

At the 2016 event, 50 athletes participated. It was such a success, Chris and his staff are hosting another race in 2017 with a goal of 100 participants.

The O2 Challenge is Saturday, August 26. Registration will remain open until the event begins at 10 a.m.

To pre-register, click here.

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