The media can be our best friend when our stories are told with accuracy and compassion.
Both WTIU in Bloomington, Indiana and WTHR in Indianapolis did just that and ran stories this past week about my son Andrew – continuing the wave of attention after he became the second Special Olympics athlete in history to qualify for the 2019 Boston Marathon in November.
Jason Pear of WTIU heard about Andrew’s story. As an award-winning public television producer, he wanted to capture the more than the Boston qualification. What was the story within the story? For more than two months, my family gave Jason ready access and cooperated fully – because trust developed. In the process the proposed six-minute story grew to 10 minutes for the WTIU’s The Weekly Special.
Although a longer segment could have easily covered more ground, Jason used the time wisely to introduce early trauma and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder with sincerity – before building upon Andrew’s challenges and the necessary supports to overcome them. The community response to the piece has been overwhelming positive. People gained greater insight.
Meanwhile, WTHR, the NBC-affiliate in Indianapolis and highest rated news station in central Indiana, assigned veteran reporter Mary Milz to cover Andrew in advance of the annual One America 500 Festival Mini-Marathon – one of the nation’s largest with over 30,000 participants. Earlier in the year, Andrew was chosen to be the first ever elite running ambassador for the 500 Festival organization.
Mary came with her bike to Eagle Creek Park where Andrew often trains. There she filmed him trying to keep pace, while showing the incredible courage and dedication that young people with disabilities display – when given a chance. The initial two-minute piece grew to 3:19 – which is rarely seen in television news – and allowed Mary to cover a lot of ground. I’m sure you’ll agree after clicking on the blue link to watch her fine work.
Immediately before the two stories aired on Wednesday and Friday, the Mayor’s Office proclaimed May 2, 2018 as Andrew Peterson Day. Obviously, my son’s story is attracting interest in the right places – without us having to a word. The goal now will be for other service organizations to jump on the bandwagon of positive press.
And as we have always done, we will use all media opportunities to make Andrew’s story reflective of many of your stories. ESPN is currently finishing two pieces on Andrew for release at the Special Olympics USA Games in Seattle in early July – one 12 to 15 minutes and another a full half-hour.
Let’s all remained committed to telling our stories with dignity and hope. Sensationalism and negativity only reinforce the stigma that we have worked so hard to overcome. DCP
Craig Peterson publishes EACH Child every Tuesday. To subscribe, open this link and “Like” the page. EACH Child is Special: Working Smarter Not Harder to Raise Every ONE
To follow Craig’s journey in raising his six children with special needs, click here: Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love
To follow my son Andrew’s inspiring story, “Like” his special Facebook page Andrew Peterson Athlete & Advocate