Transylvania County Special Olympics Athletes have a special collaboration to make sure they are in top shape when it is time to compete. Transylvania County Parks & Recreation and the Fitness Factory have partnered to offer free weight and cardio training to Transylvania County Special Olympic athletes beginning in December.

This program will launch later this year, but there is already a group of athletes eager to take advantage of this opportunity made possible by collaboration. “I am so excited about this new program! This introduces a whole new level of self-care and fitness. We have an amazing community that embraces the part of itself with special needs, accepts them, and cares about them,” Local Special Olympics Coordinator Emily Lowery said.

Transylvania County Parks & Recreation Director, Jared Mull, credited the community, Fitness Factory Owner Phil Kitchen and County Commissioner Page Lemel for taking the idea into a reality. “One of the great things that make this community so special is the willingness for multiple organizations-public, private and non-profit- to work together and collaborate on awesome programs such as this one. Our department is always looking for ways to better serve our special needs community and fortunately, Commissioner Lemel came across an article where another community had offered a similar program. We are excited that our Special Olympic athletes will have the opportunity to train and improve their craft the same way that other high school, college, and adult athletes do while having access to a great fitness facility like Fitness Factory.”

The National Center for Disease Control indicates that adults living with intellectual disabilities are more likely to be living with complex health conditions including obesity with limited access to healthcare and health promotion programs. The agency’s research on National Core Indicators reflects this as the reason for a lower life expectancy than the general population.

Thanks to Phil Kitchen, owner of the Fitness Factory, Transylvania County hopes to change this statistic for our community with this new health promotion program. “We’re excited and honored to partner with Transylvania County Parks & Recreation in support of Transylvania Special Olympic Athletes,” Kitchen said.