2022 Team Kennedy Krieger Baltimore Running Festival

Meet Team Kennedy Krieger

Team Kennedy Krieger is a special group of parents, patients, staff and supporters joining together to raise funds for Kennedy Krieger, while drawing attention to the importance of providing equipment and opportunities for adaptive sports. Individuals with disabilities will race alongside able-bodied athletes on Team Kennedy Krieger. With this racing festival, we aim to increase the number of patients who are able to participate in the races each year and open the door to improved physical fitness for those with disabilities.

 

 

Shane Horn Crossfit

Shane Horn, one of our newest handcyclists, is a Baltimore City Firefighter, whose injury is a result of a fall in November 2018. He was recruited to Team Kennedy Krieger by another patient and member of Team Kennedy Krieger, Chris Whyte, while he was still in inpatient rehab. Chris gave him the ultimate challenge of competing in the 2019 Baltimore Running Festival as a handcyclist.

Shane came to KKI for outpatient rehab in January 2019. Shortly after, he applied to the handcycle loan program, in hopes of receiving a loaner handcycle to compete in the 2019 Baltimore Running Festival. The handcycle loan program is provided with funds raised through the Baltimore Running Festival. His application was accepted and he received a loaner handcycle in June 2019. “I wanted to remain active and competitive like I was before my injury and the running festival was the first chance to compete against other people again,” said Shane. Shane did not take the thought of competition too lightly, as he became invested in the sport, training weekly, almost daily for the 2019 Baltimore Running Festival. “It's a lot of fun and it's important to stay active. It helped me mentally get back to living the life I was before my injury,” said Shane.

In addition to handcycling, Shane is involved in our Personal Training program which includes an adaptive CrossFit program. Prior to his injury, he was involved in CrossFit at a local gym, so this was something that seemed natural to him, although he was uneasy about it at first being that he was newly injured. He agreed to go and watch one day, but once he got there he could not resist; he did one workout and hasn't missed a week since. With his dedication to CrossFit, Shane qualified for Wodapalooza, an international CrossFit competition held in Miami FL each year. Also through funds raised in the 2019 Baltimore Running Festival, Team Kennedy Krieger sponsored Shane in the 2020 Wodapalooza CrossFit competition. Shane competed as an adaptive athlete in the men's “seated scaled” division.

Team Kennedy Krieger uses this event as a funding opportunity to raise critically needed funds for its rehabilitation programs, in which innovative therapies help individuals recover from disorders and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. “I enjoy the running festival because it gives me a chance to spend time with KKI staff and patients outside of the therapy building. And it's for a good cause. All the proceeds go towards therapy equipment that I use as a patient,” said Shane.

 

 

Chris Mason-Hale

Chris Mason-Hale, often referred to as CMH, joined Team Kennedy Krieger in 2014. It wasn't until 2016 that he competed in the Baltimore Running Festival Marathon as a handcyclist. CMH requires a more unique handcycle due to his level of injury, which we were able to purchase with funds raised from the previous years. Through years of skilled physical therapy and newly, routine personal training with ICSCI, CMH felt ready to compete. “For many years after my injury, I struggled to find another sport to replace football” said Chris. Since 2016, Chris has participated in three Baltimore Running Festival Marathons as a handcyclist and each year he aims to shave at least 10 minutes off his completion time.

Chris mentioned, “The best part of participating in the Baltimore Running Festival is the feeling of accomplishment afterward and the amazing amount of support you receive from fellow teammates throughout. Even while passing each other during the race, you'll hear a shout of encouragement.” When asked what this event means to him, Chris described it “like a report card”. He went on to further explain, “I start the year with goals of increasing my strength and endurance so that I can stay healthy. A marathon is the best test I can think of to measure how far I've come and help me to set further goals for the future. The amount of confidence I gain after this event was a feeling I thought would fade, but, instead, has continued to build and motivate me in other aspects of my life; making me more independent.”

Speaking of independence, since joining Team Kennedy Krieger, Chris has also traveled with staff and other patients to the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, CO for mountain biking and kayaking, which was made possible by funds raised through the Baltimore Running Festival. “If you're looking to join a community that embraces, supports and motivates its members past their limits, Team Kennedy Krieger is the place for it. No matter what facet of the team you join, your support will be appreciated. That sense of camaraderie makes it tough to resist becoming more involved the next year” said Chris.

 

 

Chris Whyte

Meet Chris Whyte. Chris is a patient in our International Center for Spinal Cord Injury outpatient program and joined Team Kennedy Krieger in 2015 when his Physical Therapist encouraged him to walk the 5K. “He [physical therapist] knew I was motivated by goals and athletic events, since my injury was in a triathlon” Chris said. The following year, Chris then jogged the 5K and through intense Physical Therapy, gained a remarkable amount of strength and inspiration to hop back onto his bike. In 2017, Chris participated in the Baltimore Running Festival as a handcycle escort where he rode his bicycle alongside one of our handcyclists as an extra set of eyes to ensure safety through the entire Marathon course. “I appreciate the progress I have made in my recovery and want to help raise funds and support the team [and the] handcyclists and I enjoy being able to ride my bike” Chris explained.

Chris has become an integral part of the team. His wife Patty and he volunteer much of their time to the team. During the summer they work very closely with the handcyclists as they train for the Baltimore Running Festival. His goal “is to provide [his] handcyclist all of the support and encouragement they need to perform their best.” When asked, what is the best part about participating in the Baltimore Running Festival, Chris said, “The family/team support and accomplishments. It's especially gratifying to support people as they achieve new milestones.” Chris has also had the opportunity to travel with staff and other patients to the Adaptive Sports Center in Crested Butte, CO for mountain biking and kayaking; all made possible by the funds raised through the Baltimore Running Festival. For Chris, this event “means progress, support, optimism, family and success.” If someone were thinking about joining Team Kennedy Krieger, Chris says, “do it, there is nothing to lose and so much to gain: a whole new family”.

 

 

Jennifer Schwab

Meet Jennifer Schwab. Jennifer joined Team Kennedy Krieger in 2016 through her organization, Restorative Therapies (RTI) where she ran the 5K. Jennifer said, “I believed in KKI and RTI’s mission to help children and adults living with paralysis gain access to activity based restorative therapies and to live the fullest life possible”, additionally, “I wanted to find a way to give back and Team Kennedy Krieger and the Baltimore Running Festival allowed me to do that.” What really motivated Jennifer to participate in the Baltimore Running Festival with Team Kennedy Krieger, was the opportunity “to gain greater knowledge of adaptive sports and be a part of a supportive community that ensure individuals have access to equipment, supplies, and resources. What Team Kennedy Krieger offers to athletes is inspiring.” Additionally, Jennifer went on to say, “being surrounded by participating athletes and the dedicated staff of KKI on the day of the event is incredible. The energy, support, and sense of community that drive the athletes to reach such amazing goals cannot be summed up in words…you have to be there!”

Over the years, Jennifer has continued to join Team Kennedy Krieger for the Baltimore Running Festival, not only by running but volunteering as well and in 2019, RTI became a proud sponsor of Team Kennedy Krieger. “I have had the privilege of getting to know some of the Team Kennedy Krieger athletes before the day of the day of the race, while they were training. To hear their struggles and triumphs throughout the training schedule along with seeing them cross that line, I feel privileged to be a part of their day” said Jennifer. Through these interactions with the athletes, Jennifer says she “leaves the day inspired to do more.” Jennifer said, “It’s not about the race, it’s about being a part of and seeing the individuals who are overcoming challenges participate in adaptive sports and the wonderful opportunity that KKI provides. If you want to be a part of something special, Team Kennedy Krieger is it.”

 

 

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“Working here shows me that anything is possible when you just believe,” said Erin Michael, patient advocacy manager at Kennedy Krieger’s International Center for Spinal Cord Injuries (ICSCI). “Working here helps me grow….It humbles, inspires and pushes me.”

A positive and hopeful place, everything done at Kennedy Krieger is with a focus on our patients and their best interests. It is our goal to provide them with the best possible care, outcomes and opportunities. “What we do for one another here is incredible,” concluded Erin. “It’s like a giant family here, wanting the best for each other, pushing each other, and the limits.”

That drive is what Erin uses in her position as she seeks to improve the lives of our patients through access. Currently she focuses on educating the public on issues affecting those with permanent and significant disabilities on a daily basis. She wants to improve that knowledge base not only with government officials on a national scale, but with family, friends, and neighbors in her own circles. Thus, persistence, patience and teaching are her objectives.

Erin finds motivation in the achievements of our patients and athletes regardless of whether she’s advocating on Capitol Hill or working in the ICSCI clinic.

“The joy on their face, the audible cheers, the full tooth grins when they accomplish something someone told them they never would, like feeding themselves, moving a finger, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for their family, taking a step, walking a 5K or finishing a marathon, sailing a boat, playing lacrosse again,” explained Erin, “Those moments are the moments I live for, and the memories of those moments push me to work until I find the next moment.”

 

 

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Pat joined Team Kennedy Krieger in 2021 as virtual 5K participant where she walked the 5K distance at her retirement community alongside her therapist and other residents of the community. It was her therapist who encouraged her to participate in this event. In fact, Pat spent months training for this event during therapy sessions. Pat wanted to participate in the Baltimore Running Festival to show her improvement in walking. Pat said, “personal competition” is the best part about participating in the Baltimore Running Festival.

Pat will be joining Team Kennedy Krieger in the Baltimore Running Festival again, with a personal goal of improving her time. Pat attends therapy at our International Center for Spinal Cord Injury and has seen improvements in her walking, balance and self-confidence. Pat can now reach her feet, pick things up off the floor and get off the floor if she were to fall and could not have imagined doing these things prior to coming to Kennedy Krieger. When asked, what would you say to someone who might be thinking about joining Team Kennedy Krieger in the Baltimore Running Festival, she said, “it is a life changing opportunity”.

 

Join the Team Kennedy Krieger family by participating on Team Kennedy Krieger at the Baltimore Running Festival. Choose from the marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, or a custom distance of your choice. Join our over 200-person team by signing up or making a donation here.