NEW YORK, July 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Chris Nikic, first person with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon, is joining KultureCity Fit (KCFit) to run the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7 alongside the KCFit crew. Chris was recently awarded the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance at the 2021 ESPYS.
KCFit is the brainchild of KultureCity co-founder Dr. Michele Kong and NFL legend Tiki Barber to merge philanthropy with physical fitness through exercise, diet, and community. KCFit is a collective group of individuals who are committed to use their passion for sports and athletics for the inclusion of all individuals in our society.
"We are thrilled to have Chris join our KultureCity team to spread the message of awareness, acceptance, and inclusion for all. He has shown that with hard work, tenacity, and with a community surrounding him, nothing is impossible. Everyone needs to be given a chance, and to be included, regardless of their challenges. We can’t wait to see what Chris will do in his journey to the start line, and when he conquers the TCS NYC Marathon!" said Dr. Kong.
Mr. Barber seconds the sentiment and said "I’m so excited to have Chris on our KultureCity TCS NYC Marathon team. Running has always been a uniting activity, and I can’t think of a better ambassador for inclusion and perseverance than Chris. His passion and determination is inspirational, and proves that despite a diagnosis, any dream can be achieved."
For Chris, he is running for others like himself: "I’m running the TCS New York City Marathon with KultureCity to raise awareness for others like me who have some extra obstacles to overcome and show that we can do anything if we are given the opportunity, we are willing to work hard and get 1% better every day."
Alongside Chris, Dr. Michele Kong and Tiki Barber, Renae Ingles, and Daniel K. Isaac will also be representing KCFit. Renae Ingles is a former Professional Netballer who was a member of the Australian Diamonds Commonwealth Games Gold Medalist Team in 2014. She is the wife of Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz Basketballer and mom of three kids: twins Jacob and Milla, and Jack. Renae runs for her son Jacob, and his best friend, Oliver, both diagnosed with autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. Daniel is an actor and writer, known for his regular recurring role as Ben Kim on Showtime’s Billions.
"Supporting charitable causes and organizations are a long-standing tradition of the TCS New York City Marathon as it serves as one of the world’s largest fundraising platforms," said Christine Burke, Senior VP of Strategic Partnerships, NYRR. The marathon exemplifies the running community’s spirit of giving back, and no group demonstrates that more than the thousands who choose to run for charity. We are proud to support the efforts of the KultureCity team and the positive impact they have made to their community."
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over stimulation and noise, which can prevent them from participating in public events . Funds raised from the marathon will be used to support various KultureCity initiatives such as the Sensory Inclusive Venue Certification, Toys AUcross America, and others.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 700 sensory-inclusive venues in 5 countries: this includes special events such as the NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, MLB World Series, and MLB All Star Weekend. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts, including the NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017, the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena and the 2019 Industry Partner Award in Stadium Business Design & Development. In 2019 and 2020, KultureCity was named one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies by Fast Company.