Creating More Opportunities For People With Disabilities To Succeed

Aug 8, 2014

Medals for the first annual Care Farm Challenge at the Keller family "Centennial Farm" in the West Valley of the Flathead.
Credit Katrin Frye

The first of what organizers plan to be an annual race took place on Saturday, July 26th in the Flathead featuring a Spartan-style-obstacle race for people with disabilities. The race brought together several organizations including Special Olympics, Care Farms, the Lighthouse Christian Home, and the Special Friends Advocacy Program.

Rachel Grant works with the Care Farm Program through A-Plus-Home-Healthcare of Kalispell. Grant helped plan this “Farm-Style” Obstacle race.

“It means it’s built with hay bales and logs and rocks and, with a creek bed, and- on the farm,” Grant said.

The first annual Challenge took place on the hundred-year-old family farm belonging to Les Keller.

Keller got the idea for the Challenge this past spring after seeing the popularity of the “Spartan” obstacle course in Bigfork.

“They do have some adaptive obstacles for handicapped, but nothing where it is specific for handicapped, and I thought, well, gosh, that’s what we need to do,” Keller said.

Volunteers and athletes at the finish line from the first Care Farm Challenge on July 26th.
Credit Rachel Grant / A-Plus Home Health Care

Keller’s farm is signed up with A-Plus as a Care Farm. Care Farms offer a therapeutic outlet for people through real agricultural work.

Diana Slater is the Special Olympics coordinator in Kalispell and the mother of a Care Farm participant.

“Everyone needs to succeed, everyone needs to feel that they’re important, and that they count as much as everyone else. This is a chance for them to get out, get the wind in their hair, get the heart pumping, and, you know, exercise is so important for all of us. This gives them, on their terms, to do that,” Slater said right now they have three events each year; basketball, the winter Olympic games, and summer games in May.

"This is an opportunity that a lot of my athletes have never encountered, and we all need to grow, and stretch our boundaries," Slater said.

Keller said he plans for this to be the first of many.

“As long as I’m here, we’ll have the Challenge.”