The last 5 months have been an interesting in learning to stand up and fight for the rights of using my guide dog. Last November, Hubby had decided to sign up for the OneAmerica Indy 500 Mini Marathon and I had toyed with the idea in the past but never thought I could get myself into shape to be able to do it. Plus I didn't know if I'd want to commit to that as well.
So Mike and I had done various things to try to lose weight, get in shape and so forth, but nothing had panned out or held our attention to continue the committment to sticking with it. So we both knew that it was going to take some financial committment to something, so we decided to take the step off the edge and do the Mini Marathon.
So with the increasing determination to do this, before signing up for the marathon I began to read through the rules and regulations of the the course in which it explicitly states NO animals allowed. Thus I sent an email to the 500 Festival group requesting their cooperation to be able to use Rei during the race. I did not receive any answer back for a week and then went ahead and signed up before the early registration ended. The response I received back was rather surprising.
2009-11-16- Response from the 500 Festival Group:
Thank you for contacting the 500 Festival and for your interest in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini- Marathon. We would definitely welcome your participation in the event if you are able to supply a visual guide. Unfortunately, we do not allow any animals, including service animals, on the course not only for the safety of all of the participants, but also for the safety of the animal.
If you are interested in having a visual guide for the event, please let us know and we can provide you with the name and contact info for a company that may have guides available. Also, please note that both you and the guide must register for the event.
Thank you again for your interest!
Have a great day,
At this point, I contacted the Partners in Policymaking network and initiated some support and assistance in standing up to this. Mr. Greg Meyer, a fellow Partners grad and adovcate worked on this and was able to get us to the point of talking with the VP of Operations for the 500 Festival group.
The VP of Operations came back with a proposal that was unacceptable in many ways to me.
Proposal received in the attachment to the above listed email:
Dear Kacie Weldy;
Thank you for your interest in participating in the One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.
The 500 Festival encourages visually-impaired individuals to participate in the event and we look forward to your participation.
As you know, our policy prohibits animals of any kind from participating in the Mini. This policy is designed and intended for the safety and security of all participants and is not intended, in any way, to discourage the participation of visually impaired athletes. Indeed, our policy is consistent with policies throughout the country.
Our goal is to encourage safe participation. Therefore, we are pleased to provide you with two options for participation.
The first, and our recommended option, is that you participate with the aid of a human guide. This has proven to be a very constructive method of allowing full participation and we have had several participants in years past who have participated in this fashion. We believe this would best serve your desire to participate as well as the interests of the rest of the field in maintaining safety.
Should you desire to use a “service animal,” we can accommodate you under certain conditions. You will be required to:
- provide us with validated registration for the participating service animal;
- agree to muzzle the service animal while it is in or around the race route;
- provide us with your plan for how you intend to clean up any animal defecation on or around the race route in order to reduce potential danger to other participants;
- agree to start at the back of the participant field to avoid trip hazards for other participants, as much as possible;
- sign a liability and indemnification agreement (which will be provided by the 500 Festival), as authorized by Indiana law, for any and all damage that may be done or may be caused by the service animal; and
- provide the above items to the 500 Festival on or before April 1, 2010.
We can and are willing to provide your participation through either of these aforementioned accommodations. Thank you for your inquiry and please let me know if you would like to discuss this further.
We look forward to your participation in the 2010 One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon.
Vice President Operations
At this point we began negotiations back and forth in which I requested a copy of the legal agreement that was referred to in the above proposal.
Liability and Indemnification Agreement received in an attachment of the prior email:
WAIVER, RELEASE OF ANY AND ALL LIABILITY, AND INDEMNIFICATION IN CONNECTION WITH PARTICIPATION IN ONEAMERICA 500 FESTIVAL, INC. MINI MARATHON WITH A SERVICE ANIMAL
TO BE READ AND SIGNED PRIOR TO PARTICIPATION:
500 Festival, Inc., under the terms and conditions contained in this document, shall permit the undersigned ("Participant") to participate in the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini- Marathon ("the Mini") with the use of a service animal.
I agree that my participation is subject to and conditioned on my signing this document ("Agreement") and agreeing to be legally bound by the terms of this Agreement.
I acknowledge and agree that:
(i) Any "service animal," as defined by Indiana Code 16-32-3, et seq., I use in connection with my participation in the Mini is:
a. Properly immunized under Indiana Code 35-46-3, et seq.; and
b. Is properly licensed, if required, pursuant to any state or local law or ordinance; and
c. Is especially trained for purposes of being used as a guide animal pursuant to Indiana Code 16-32-3, et seq.; and
d. Will remain muzzled at all times while on or around the race course and when within 100 feet of any other participant.
(ii) My use of a service animal is completely voluntary, for my own personal benefit, and is not being required by 500 Festival, Inc. I have been offered to opportunity to use a human guide for the Mini and I have declined that offer.
(iii) I hereby release 500 Festival, Inc., together with its sponsors, employees, agents, members of its Board of Directors, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and any other person or organization associated with 500 Festival, Inc. ("Released Parties") from any and all claims or liability of any type whatsoever, including, but not limited to, property damage, physical injury, mental or emotional injury, defamation, and invasion of privacy, which I may suffer arising out of, based upon, resulting from, or in any way connected with my participation in the Mini.
(iv) I will not sue any of the Released Parties for any claim arising out of, based upon, resulting from, or in any way connected with my participation in the Mini.
(v) Pursuant to Indiana Code 16-32-3, et seq., I will be responsible for and will defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Released Parties from and against all claims, damages and expenses including, but not limited to, attorneys' fees and legal costs of defense, arising out of, based upon, resulting from, or in any way connected with or alleged to arise, be based upon, result from, or be in any way connected with my actions or the actions of my service animal while participating in the Mini.
I hereby represent that I am of legal age, legally competent to execute this document, and accept full responsibility therefor.
Dated this ___ day of __________________, 20___.
This proposal and liability form posed several issues which I was not willing to sign off and agree to. First and foremost, was the requirement of having to muzzle Rei. Other items that I had real issues with was starting at the back of the entry field and moreso the lability form which stated that I was leagally liable for any legal recourse that the 500 Festival group may incure for whatever reason because of the presence of Rei as my Service dog being in the race with me.
The next several months were spent corresponding back and forth and eventually contactint Indiana Protection and Advocacy Services (IPAS) to more forward in negotiations between their legal staff and the legal staff for the 500 Festival. In mid March, the 500 Festival agreed to drop the requirement of having to use a muzzle on Rei, however they stated they were not willing to forego the liablity requirements. We reached the point of filing a complaint with the Dept. of Justice, and with many thanks to IPAS and their awesome staff, the 500 Festival has agreed to allow Rei and I to be in the race, to do so without a muzzle, and that I am only required to provide the same liability and waiver form that all the other participants are required to sign. Rei and I will be starting at the back of the entry field and I have provided the other items requested. Thus we will be in the Race!
We have been training for a good while now and are seriously logging some miles in preparation for this.
Thursday - November 12, 2009
We walked four 1/10ths of a mile laps around the CPCC gym in 10 minutes.
Mike and I signed up for the Mini tonight and have our confirmations and Bib Numbers!
My goal: To finish before being caught by the bus!
How I feel: I’m nervous and scared of going into this through the winter. I am trying to have confidence that I can do this and finish the race.
Friday - November 13, 2009
We went to the zoo with the girls for four hours. Walked the entire zoo and some circles too, slow and leisurely, but with Rei strongly pulling. Easily did 2-3 miles of walking
Saturday - November 14, 200.
Minutes: 25 Walked 1.75 miles, Weather: 65 and sunny
Monday - November 16, 2009
Minutes: 25 Walked 1.75 miles, Weather: 51 while cloudy and damp.
Tuesday - November 17, 2009
Minutes: 22 Walked 1.75 miles, Weather: 45 while cloudy and damp.
Wednesday - November 18, 2009
Minutes: 33 Walked Approx. 2 miles, Weather: 45 while cloudy and damp.
Sunday - November 22, 2009
Minutes: 38 Walked Approx. 2 miles, Weather: Low 50’s while sunny.
Wednesday - November 25, 2009
Minutes: 42 Walked Approx. 2 miles, Weather: Low 40’s, wet and misting rain.
Friday - November 27, 2009
Minutes: 30 mins 32 secs Walked. 2 miles, Weather: Low 50’s, sunny.
Sunday - November 27, 2009
Minutes: 45 mins 22 secs Walked. 3 miles, Weather: Upper 40’s, cloudy.
Friday – December 4, 2009
Minutes: 31 mins Walked 2.3 miles, Weather: Mid 20’s, sunny.
Saturday – December 5, 2009
Minutes: 45 mins Walked 3 miles,
Then we started the Mini Marathon training at church.
1/24- 2 miles, 26 mins
1/25- 2 miles, 26 mins
1/26- 3 miles- 52 mins
1/27- Rest Day
1/28 - 2.4 miles, 32? mins
1/29 - 3 miles ?
1/30 - Rest Day
1/31 - 3.5 miles, 65 mins
2/1- 4 miles, 1 hr 5 mins
2/2- 2.5 miles, 37 mins
2/3- Rest Day
2/4- 2.4 miles, 32 mins
2/5- 40 mins cross training/shovelling snow
2/6- Rest Day
Week 3: Total of 17.8 miles
2/7-4 miles- 61 mins
2/8- 3 miles- 50 mins
2/9- 60 mins cross train
2/10- Rest Day
2/11- 2.4 miles- 32 mins... See More
2/12- 3 miles- 50 mins
2/13- 5.4 miles- 95 mins
Week 4: Total of 7.5 miles
2/15- Rest day- bad weather
2/16- Rest day- bad weather/sore
2/17- 2 miles- 35 mins sore/quit early due to pain
2/18- 2.4 miles 32 mins with training group
2/19- 3.1 miles- 65 mins
2/20- Rest Day
Week 5: Total of 14.8 miles
2/22- 3 miles- 55 mins
2/23- 3 miles- 50 mins
2/24- Rest Day
2/25- 2.4 miles 35 mins with training group
2/26- Rest Day
2/27- Rest Day
Week 6: Total of 16 miles
2/28- 7.6 miles 132 mins
3/1- Rest Day
3/2- 3 miles 52 mins
3/4- 3.4 miles 42 mins
3/5- 2 miles
Week 7: Total of 12.9 miles
3/7- 4.8 miles
3/8- 4.5 miles
3/9- Rest Day
3/10- 3.6 miles
3/11- Rest (Indy West Great Banquet activities through Sun)
Week 8: Total of 23.10 miles
3/14- 7.6 miles 128 mins
3/15- Rest Day
3/16- 4 miles 72 mins
3/17- Rest day
3/18- 2.4 32 mins
3/19- 9.1 miles 155 mins (oops, did a mile extra...)
Week 9: Total of 10.5 miles
3/21 Rest Day
3/22 Rest Day
3/23 3.0 miles Rei came up sore and unwilling to walk
3/24 Rest Day
3/25 1.5 miles
3/26 6.0 miles
3/27 Rest Day
So now we are calling all supporters, all service dog handlers, trainers, raisers, walkers, and friends to come out and show thier support along the Race course on May 8th!
Since Rei and I will indeed be in the OneAmerica Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon race, I would like to put out the word to all service dog handlers and puppy raisers/walkers to please show your support (and let others know too) by coming out and being along the course of the race to cheer us on and make a presence that people will notice!
The race is downtown Indianapolis on May 8th (mother's day weekend) and will start at 7:30am and be over no later than noon. We have 13.1 miles to walk, so I hope to see you there to cheer us on and let people know what service animals do for us!
I thank you in advance for all your help on this! Please email me directly with any questions!
Please share the word!