Washington, DC (PRWEB) March 09, 2013
The roar of the engines. The expert pit crews working on the cars. The speed the cars travel. Does this sound like a place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD)? To Don and Laurie Istook of Istook’s Motorsports and The Arc, it does and is. An award-winning film producer and director Heidi Reinberg has captured a day at the race track with people with I/DD, including a pit crew member, who is raising awareness about what people with I/DD can do when given the chance.
Mark Heitt, who is Laurie’s brother and has an intellectual disability, is an important member of Don’s racing crew, performing tasks like caring for the car’s exterior and changing tires, alongside his coworkers.
Laurie says of her brother, Mark: “It just gives him a meaning and a purpose for his life. It gives him something to look forward to, and that’s what we all want.”
Last year, The Arc launched The Arc Audi Racing Program, a partnership between The Arc and RS Werkes (formerly Istook's Motorsports). The goal was to provide a unique opportunity for people with I/DD to get a taste of what it is like to be part of a fast-paced professional race crew at select races in the 2012 Pirelli World Challenge race series. We are gearing up for the 2013 racing season, and The Arc Audi Racing Program expects to compete in nine races in Florida, California, Texas, Michigan, Connecticut, and Ohio, and Don has two Audis to race.
A partnership with RS Werkes and the Pirelli World Challenge series, and funded in part by Volkswagen Group of America, The Arc Audi Racing Program invited groups of 20 people, including individuals with I/DD, their support staff and staff from select chapters of The Arc to be honorary crew members at seven races, giving them a unique race day experience and helping to raise awareness of The Arc and I/DD among racing fans everywhere. The program captured the attention of Heidi Reinberg, an award-winning film producer and director (http://www.heidibigidea.com/), who immediately saw the potential to capture this exciting experience on film to show the world that people with disabilities can be a part of the racing experience. Reinberg traveled to Sonoma to follow The Arc of San Francisco at the race at the Sonoma Speedway.
Professional race team owner Don Istook and his wife Laurie have a personal connection to the I/DD community. Two of Laurie’s brothers, Mark and Tyson, have Fragile X, but this does not stop them from being an active part of Don’s professional race pit crew. Inspired by their success, Don and Laurie contacted the national office of The Arc to propose a program to give select chapters of The Arc across the country the opportunity to be a part of the racing world. Participants were able to see The Arc Audi Race Team cars, talk to the crew and play a hands-on role in preparing the cars for the race.
“Being a special educator, I want people to see our crew members with intellectual disabilities out here and realize they have so much potential given the opportunity,” said Laurie Istook in the film.
The Arc advocates for and serves people with I/DD, including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 700 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.
Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.