Special Olympian With Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Named A Finalist For ‘Runner’s World’ Cover Contest

A man with FAS is a finalist for the Runner's World cover contest.

Runner’s World announced Andrew Peterson, a 21-year-old Special Olympian born with fetal alcohol syndrome, as a finalist for its cover contest. Peterson announced his finalist position in Runner’s World on his Facebook page called “Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold.”

Runner’s World introduced me this afternoon through social media,” Peterson said, linking to the Runner’s World article. “Here’s the link — complete with several photos from my photo shoot as well a shortened version of the speech I’ve delivered to 35,000 high school students in Indiana (which my brother Brandon put together for me over the weekend). And thank you to all the people who’ve always believed in me and pushed me to become better on and off the track.”

As a runner, Peterson says he has a healthy way to channel energy and a platform to succeed, according to Runner’s World. Peterson is also a motivational speaker on the topic of intellectual disabilities, a topic he knows first hand.

His adoptive father, Donald Craig Peterson, runs a Facebook page called “EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE.” Craig Peterson has raised six children with special needs. He thanked the editors of Runner’s World for their eagerness to accommodate his son’s needs for their cover contest.

“Thanks for the many kind comments about my son Andrew,” Craig Peterson wrote. “No doubt, Runner’s World took a risk in making him one of the finalists — since he brings a completely different background than the other finalists who had far fewer votes. To accommodate Andrew’s intellectual disability, the editors allowed him to recite his entire 15-minute speech during the interview and then answer relevant questions.”

Andrew Peterson described himself, when asked, as “relentless.” In the cover contest interview, he relayed pieces of his childhood living with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and getting in trouble at recess in the second grade. He recalled how he didn’t understand game rules and played too rough. Instead of sitting in detention, he said that his father asked the school if Andrew could walk laps around the playground. Andrew said that before long, he was running the laps.

Andrew ran his first 3K with his father without stopping when he was nine years old. In middle school, the cross country coach tried to tell him he couldn’t join the team because of his disability, but by the time high school was over, he had earned four varsity letters in the sport. In 2014, he earned three gold medals at the U.S.A. Games in the Special Olympics.

“Although I struggled in my first two preliminaries, I ran two personal bests in the finals: 4:47 in the 1500 and 10:22 in the 3000,” Peterson recalled. “No one could keep up.”

Andrew told Runner’s World that running is important to him because he can succeed. Through running, he says he found he has also been able to be an inspiration to others both on and off the track field. Andrew is one of only 10 finalists out of over 2,300 entries. Only two winners will be chosen for the cover contest.

“There are no losers,” Bart Yasso, Runner’s World’s Chief Running Officer, said, “but there have to be winners.”

“It was one of the hardest — and most inspiring — editing jobs I’ve ever done,” Editor-in-Chief David Willey said of choosing the winners of the cover contest. On Monday, November 10, Runner’s World’s two cover contest winners will be announced on HuffPost Live at 12:30 p.m. ET.

[Photo via Facebook]