INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A local Special Olympics athlete has qualified for one of sporting’s most prestigious events—the Boston Marathon. Andrew Peterson, 24, has been a Special Olympics runner for years. He was born with fetal alcohol syndrome, but has never let its effects slow him down.
During Saturday’s Monumental Marathon in Indianapolis, he finished three minutes faster than the time of three hours he was shooting for.
“I was able to be pumped up though,” said Andrew.
The goal Saturday was simple: hit that three hour mark and qualify for Boston.
“He looked incredibly comfortable the whole race,” said Andrew’s dad, Craig Peterson. He was there watching, but alongside Andrew was Justin Dyszelski, helping Andrew keep pace.
“Andrew could definitely run faster for sure,” said Dyszelski, “so his next race I would expect him to run quite a bit quicker than he did today.”
Before Friday, Andrew and Dyszelski had never met. They were paired up through a group called the November Project, which helps motivate people to stay physically fit. Dyszelski had also never helped anyone like Andrew before.
“You’re pacing someone else that has a really great opportunity on their hands and they can qualify for Boston so you don’t want to mess that up,” said Dyszelski.
For Andrew, it was just the support he needed.
“He was a good role model to me and a great partner,” said Andrew.
But this race was about more than making a time. It was also about making some history.
“Only one Special Olympics athlete has qualified officially on time and that was 35 years ago,” said Craig, “we thought that was another great challenge for Andrew.”
He’s now the second Special Olympics athlete to ever qualify for Boston, and his determination is something we can all learn from.
“There’s a lot of people that can look up to what Andrew does and use that as motivation as well,” said Dyszelski.
Andrew qualified for the 2019 Boston Marathon since 2018 is already full. Dyszelski said he plans on being there, cheering Andrew every step of the way.