First Runner With Down Syndrome Completes ING New York City Marathon

Jimmy Jenson becomes first individual with Down syndrome to cross the Marathon's finish line

MIAMI, Nov. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Sunday, Nov.3, Jennifer Davis and Jimmy Jenson, of Los Angeles, Calif., represented Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment and leadership training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and Team USA Endurance in the ING New York City Marathon. Sponsored by the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation and Virgin America Airlines, Davis and Jenson ran the 26.2 mile course through New York City's five boroughs, and in the process, Jenson made history by becoming the very first individual with Down syndrome to cross the Marathon's finish line. The pair crossed the finish line with a time of 10:17:51.

"I did this for all of my friends at ARC, ALL 26 miles!" Jenson said. "Jennifer and I did it!"

Davis and Jenson met 12 years ago at the ARC program for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities in North Hollywood, Calif. Davis serves as the Coordinator for Day Programs and Saturday Camps while Jenson, 48 is an individual with Down syndrome who lives semi-independently in a townhouse with two roommates with disabilities.  Over the years, Jenson and Davis have formed an incredible friendship and personal bond that continues to grow stronger with time. Jenson has spent holidays with Davis' family and friends; and they have enjoyed shopping, eating out at restaurants, and going to the park together.

"Our finish line every day is that people with intellectual disabilities are provided opportunities for the world to witness their incredible talents and abilities.  It is my hope that this historical moment for Best Buddies and the entire inclusion movement will serve as a catalyst for companies to hire individuals with IDD into the workplace and for additional community support so that we can further implement our mission around the world," said Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Founder and Chairman of Best Buddies International.

More than a decade ago, Jenson decided he wanted to take up running and complete a 5K. Running soon became a great outlet for Jenson to get into shape while demonstrating to the community the abilities of individuals with developmental disabilities.  Over the next few years, Jenson and Davis began a successful training program which resulted in a 69 pound weight loss and renewed self confidence for Jenson.

"Friendship, health, fitness, and community involvement are important for individuals with developmental disabilities," Davis said. "I am so blessed to have been on this journey with Jimmy and to share the message with others about the joy and impact we can all have volunteering for program such as Best Buddies and ARC. I know we can change the world through the power of friendship."

ABOUT TEAM USA ENDURANCE:
In 2013, the United States Olympic Committee launched Team USA Endurance, a fundraising platform that gives a team of amateur athletes the unique opportunity to not only support Team USA, but to be a part of Team USA. For its first race, Team USA Endurance is an official charity partner of the 2013 ING New York City Marathon and has 23 athletes running the race on Nov. 3rd, 2013. Funds raised by Team USA Endurance athletes go to support U.S. Olympians, Paralympians and hopefuls. For more information, please visit www.TeamUSA.org/endurance.

About The Anthony R. Abraham Foundation:
Founded in 1976, The Anthony R. Abraham Foundation seeks to make a difference in people's lives and foster positive change. When it comes to enhancing the quality of life, every person's efforts matter. That's what Anthony and Genevieve Abraham believed when they started The Anthony R. Abraham Foundation. And the fact that we're still going strong today shows just how right they were. After more than 30 years of charitable giving, our vision remains the same:

*To provide programs and services to help people around the world become self-productive and give back to their communities
*To ensure that no child is denied medical treatment due to a lack of insurance
*To provide education that breaks barriers
*To guarantee that research into the cure of catastrophic diseases continues
*To help raise the quality of life

About Best Buddies International:
Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,700 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies' eight formal programs — Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies®, Jobs, Ambassadors, and Promoters— engage participants in each of the 50 states and in over 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of more than 800,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. In many cases, as a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org, facebook.com/bestbuddies or twitter.com/bestbuddies.


SOURCE Best Buddies International



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