Adaptive Star Mobility started the FIRST annual Inclusion Alliance 5k here in little ol’ Yakima Washington a few months ago on May 6th, 2023. Let’s dig into what the 5k is, what happened at this years event, what Rhys’s experience as an assisted athlete was, who we even are and what we do, how this has effected the Yakima community, and what you can expect for our future events!
Teri Durrin and Erin Kline-Aleman | Podcast Speakers
Hello, everyone! I’m Terri, fondly known within our community as ‘The Chair Lady’.
With me is Erin who collaborates with me on special projects that make a difference at Adaptive Star. Erin’s personal connection to our mission runs deep as she is a proud mother to Rhys, a wonderfully spirited boy who has a disability.
Our shared love for Adaptive Star stems not just from our roles within the organization, but also from how close to home its impact resonates.
We are immensely grateful for the support and appreciation we receive from our community, which fuels our commitment to making lives better every day.
What is the Inclusion Alliance 5k?
There was quite a buzz around this event. Questions like ‘What exactly is it?’ and ‘I understand it’s a 5K, but what does that mean?’ have been echoing around.
Let’s clear up the mystery—it’s called the Inclusion Alliance 5K, and the name encapsulates everything it is. It’s an event where everyone is welcome to run, walk, or ride regardless of their ability level. While we are focused on the special needs community or those who are differently-abled, we’re not excluding anyone. Whether you’re a wheelchair user, semi-mobile, or fully mobile, you’re invited!
The event isn’t just about running; it’s also about unity. We’re bringing together various nonprofits and service organizations that cater to the disabled community for a day of fun and engagement. To ensure maximum participation, we’re providing running chairs for those who might need them or for volunteers willing to assist someone else on the course. This way, we can include as many people as possible who otherwise might not be able to complete in a 5K on their own.
On top of being about inclusivity and athleticism; the event was also about creating cherished memories, fostering stronger connections, and experiencing the simple pleasure of having a good time together as a family.
The Inclusion Alliance 5K was conceived with the aim of increasing awareness about Adaptive Star, our Yakima WA mobility chair manufacturing company. Despite our local presence, it seems many are unaware of us. We thought, ‘Why not host a fun, educational event and invite our partners?’
So we did! We were joined by the Pegasus Project, Camp Prime Time, Yakima Specialties, Parent to Parent, and the Special Olympics. Yakima Parks and Recreation also partnered with us so we could have the race at Randall Park. It was heartening to see organizations serving the differently-abled community come together for a dedicated event for our assisted athletes. The entire day was all about them!
What was even more exciting was the participation of people who didn’t have a direct connection to disability—they either weren’t disabled themselves or didn’t have a disabled family member or friend. Yet, they ran or participated, which was truly remarkable!
In the lead up to the event, we kept emphasizing one message: Come as you are.
Are you a runner? A walker? Looking to exercise more? Are you disabled or do you have a disabled family member? Regardless of your answer, this event is for you. So come, participate, and let’s celebrate inclusivity together!
What happened at this years 5k?
Blessed with beautiful weather, we welcomed guests from all corners of Washington state. Over 60 participants hit the course, including 12 assisted athletes who navigated the track in their mobility chairs. We provided 8 mobility racing chairs for those who needed them, while others brought their own Adaptive Star equipment. One participant used a grit hand cycle chair, and another young man impressively completed the entire 5K in his power chair!
Our Changing tent was a big deal!
One of our key features was the inclusion of a changing tent, which received an overwhelming response. This simple setup—a pop-up with walls and a massage table—addressed a significant challenge faced by families with disabled adults. Often, lack of suitable changing facilities at public events can be a deal-breaker for these families. The mental checklist involved in leaving your house when caring for a person with disabilities is extensive. It’s not just about packing extra clothes; it’s also about ensuring there are adequate facilities to maintain their dignity while also being comfortable.
Imagine having an adult child who cannot stand independently and needs support for basic needs like changing clothes or using the restroom. Without a large, private space, what options do you have? Unfortunately, the common response is disheartening: ‘Stay home. Or just lay them on the floor.’
None of us would want to lie on a public bathroom floor or any unfamiliar location, let alone allow put our child in that situation.
Our changing tent was a simple solution that made a huge difference. It required minimal setup effort, yet its impact was profound. Some parents confided in us that they might not have attended had this provision not been made. They were relieved to find a suitable alternative to the back of their vehicle—a place where their family could retain their dignity.
Experiencing an event like this even once can profoundly shift your perspective. It’s not just about a warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s much more than that. People CRIED. People jumped for joy! As part of the Adaptive Star team, we’re privileged to work with these incredible families, and it’s moments like these that truly underscore why we do what we do.
What was Rhys’s experience as an assisted athlete?
Rhys rode in his chair and did laps with Steve, Erin’s stepdad, his mom, his aunt, and even a lap with the Grinch and Santa! He was super excited at the end as everyone was waiting for him, cheering him on, and ended with him getting his own medal.
There were so many exciting moments. One of them was when we saw Santa Corky. Rhys was so excited that he was there with him. The other one was when he was coming through the finish line at the end and everybody was cheering for him. The smile on his face was so cool; he was so proud of himself.
I kept telling him it was Reese’s party. He’s gonna think it’s his second birthday party every year!
What does Adaptive Star do?
We’re in the business of movement. Our mission? To enable people with disabilities to conquer their daily journeys—be it a trip to the store, a stroll around the neighborhood, or an adventurous day at the fair.
Yes, wheelchairs serve a purpose. But are they your top pick for a 5K? Or your best companion for a trail hike?
We’re working with a family in Texas right now and this wife is running 5K’s with her husband in a WHEELCHAIR. She said, “I really want to do a full marathon with him, but I can’t do it in a wheelchair. So help me better understand what chairs will work and how we can do this.”
Keeping it Local | Why Yakima?
We have the home advantage; as a Yakima-based brand, we believe in hosting our events locally. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about serving our community right where we operate.
There’s a large disabled population in Yakima. Many aren’t aware of our presence or the services we offer. We’re here to change that. We have a lot of nice reasonably priced accommodations here making it an ideal spot for our events.
Our ultimate goal isn’t merely selling chairs; it’s about raising awareness and making a difference. Whether it’s an Adaptive Star chair or another brand, mobility chairs are essential for daily commuting for many.
If for some reason one of our chairs doesn’t work for them we can always recommend other options. We’re all about helping our community, not trying to make a sale. And if that ends in us recommending someone else’s product; then let’s do it! Community over sales.
Adaptive Star is a key player in supporting numerous non-profit organizations. We’ve attended big-ticket marathons like the Louisiana and Carlsbad marathon, offering our support to the non-profit groups we collaborate with.
We specifically go to support the nonprofit groups that we work with and it has really made me sad that we locally don’t have something like that – and Adaptive Star is right here in Yakima WA and so many people don’t have a clue!
It was really cool to see the enlightenment from the families, some from the West Side and Seattle area.
We haven’t really made a huge splash or big deal about us in the area. Honestly, we’re so busy with our heads down and trying to help families with equipment that sometimes I forget to do the fun stuff.
This was really needed at the time that it came; and it was a lot of fun!
What’s in store for next years 5k?
May 2024 – we’ll be back!
Some of the things we learned and will be doing differently:
- Registration needs to happen a LOT sooner; definitely not same day as the event.
- Setup for duo teams and volunteering: means you’re volunteering to help with the event, not just run with somebody, okay. And then have volunteers that specifically or runners go.
- Virtual option: We had so many people reach out about a virtual 5k to participate in! If we can manage that, that would be great.
- Poles with nameplates: We knew a lot of people at the event, but not everyone knows everyone. So let’s make sure everyones names are seen so they can all be cheered for!
I really see the 5k getting bigger and bigger every year. We’re even thinking about possible hosting two per year! In the spring and fall! 😲 I know, I sound crazy.