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An opioid epidemic. High smoking rates. Health care provider shortages. Indiana faces serious public health challenges. Side Effects Public Media provides in-depth coverage of these issues and more.

Runner With Disability Gives Students Message About Inclusion

Andrew Peterson isn’t one to stay still, but he’s had to get creative since COVID cancelled the marathons and competitions he’d normally be running in. Seth Johnson interviewed him and his father for Side Effects Public Media as part of an audio diary project for our Move to Include series.


My name is Andrew Peterson. My birth mother drank alcohol during pregnancy, and I have brain damage

from fetal alcohol syndrome. My brain works like Wi-Fi. Sometimes the signal is strong, sometimes the signal is off, and sometimes the signal is really slow. Nothing in life has ever been easy.

I’ve got a good story to tell you. When I was in second grade, I kind of played too rough with the other kids at recess. My father asked the teacher if I could walk laps around the playground, and then I started running laps around the playground. The other kids joined me, but nobody could keep up. 

I ran my first 3k race with my father at the age of 8. For the first time in my life, my disability didn’t define me. I’ve run 14 marathons and 20 half-marathons.

Inspiring people throughout the pandemic, I ran 150 miles in three days. I’ve [also] been running virtual races, and I’m looking forward to racing again. All people have strength, including people with disabilities.

I’ve spoken to 100,000 students throughout Indiana about inclusion and respect. Here’s my message to you: The time is now. You are called to make a difference, one person at a time. Always remember the lasting impression you can make on me and people like me.

Seth Johnson conducted the interview for this audio diary and it was produced by Colleen Pellissier for Side Effects Public Media, a Midwest news collaborative covering public health. It is part of the Move to Include Initiative, which focuses on people with disabilities and the issues they face. The project is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.