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OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon running ambassador helping fellow Special Olympics athletes cross the finish line

Andrew Peterson has been a Mini participant every year since 2015. This year, he's helping fellow Washington Township Special Olympics athletes complete the event.

INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Peterson has always lifted people up. 

"I inspire runners of all abilities," said Andrew, who is the running ambassador for the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.

He was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and, despite his disability, became an inspiration with a decorated running career that includes a finish at the 2019 Boston Marathon.

Andrew has finished the Mini-Marathon every year since 2015, the past couple of years virtually. This year, he's helping fellow Washington Township Special Olympics Athletes complete the 13.1-mile run, which is Saturday, May 7.

"I just thought that I wanted to help out somebody else too," Andrew said.

"I think throughout the years, many members of the running community have embraced Andrew," said his dad, Craig Peterson. "He wants to give back.” 

"He's the greatest coach," said Special Olympian Ian Gill. "He tells us 'come on' and 'you can do it.'"

Andrew is pushing fellow Special Olympics athletes farther than they've ever gone before.

"We started training in February and increased our mileage each week," Andrew said. "We're ready for the Mini."

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The miles are tallied out on the track, but Andrew's impact follows these athletes home.

"From socially awkward, not interacting with anyone, to the kind of kid that has no fear," said Abelardo Gonzalez, a father of one of the Special Olympics athletes Andrew coaches.

Gonzalez never thought he'd see his son ready to take on a half marathon.

'Hey, I was wrong about that," Gonzalez said. "The ceiling can get pushed a little bit higher and a little bit higher."

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But nothing worth doing is easy.

"I think the effort they put in has been more than they expected, but that's obviously given them a boost in their self-confidence," Craig said. "I think after they finish that race on May 7th and they have that medal around their neck, they're going to know that they truly earned it."

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