Having grown up in the small town of Windsor, Vermont, Cody Tancreti ’13 was excited to teach physical education at nearby Woodstock Elementary School after graduation. A Physical Education major and a four-year member of Castleton’s football program, Tancreti first became interested in adaptive physical education after a class with Spartan Race co-founder Andy Weinberg at Castleton.
“He let us do things like the Special Olympics and allowed us to really get a taste of what it would be like to run an adaptive classroom,” he said.
After setting up an obstacle course for one of his classes, he was inspired to create a similar course for people with disabilities, giving them an opportunity to step out of their comfort zones and compete against each other in a one-of-a-kind setting. Tancreti enlisted the help of friend and fellow athlete Jeff Thomas to make his vision a reality.
The first BRAVE Challenge was held at Ascutney Mountain in September 2018. It attracted 80 participants and volunteers.
“We had a very wide range of ages at our first race. We had someone in first grade and athletes over 30 years old. The great thing is that the race is really for everyone. There’s no age limit,” Tancreti said. “It’s designed to give people with disabilities something to look forward to, to train for.”
Tancreti and Thomas created each obstacle so that athletes have the ability to choose different levels of difficulty at each obstacle.
“If you think step A is too hard, you can look at step B. Or you can just go around the obstacle. We give them all these options so they don’t have to do anything that would make them anxious. We want them to be comfortable,” Tancreti said.
The BRAVE Challenge returns this year with a race in South Burlington on June 20, 2019 and a race in Hartford on September 21, 2019. More information about registration is available at bravechallenge.org. The Brave Challenge is also seeking volunteers to help with both events.
(Photos © Photos by Nanci)