If you’re a Special Olympics Wisconsin fan who lives in northwestern Wisconsin, you just might see a familiar face in the beverage aisle of your local SpartanNash grocery store this summer.
SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the Year
That’s because athlete Isaiah Kasay of River Valley Special Olympics has been selected as one of SpartanNash’s Healthy Athletes of the Year who will be featured on their Our Family® brand water packaging throughout the summer. The specially designed 24-pack cases of water will be on store shelves at SpartanNash’s Family Fresh Market or Econofoods locations in Wisconsin to help promote its retail scan campaign that runs May 1-12. During the campaign, store guests will have the opportunity to donate $1, $5 or $10 at any checkout lane. As Healthy Athlete of the Year, Isaiah will also make several in-store appearances to promote the campaign and talk with store guests about healthy habits and Special Olympics.
The SpartanNash Foundation, the charitable giving arm of SpartanNash and its family of grocery retailers that includes Family Fresh Market and Econofoods stores in Wisconsin, selected Isaiah based on his application that he submitted that highlighted his efforts to live a healthy lifestyle and promote healthy habits among his peers. Isaiah’s healthy lifestyle that helped him make it onto the water packaging includes eating lots of healthy salads, staying physically active, and – especially fitting given the reward – choosing to primarily drink water over sodas or other sugary beverages.
“Special Olympics to me means a better opportunity to challenge oneself in a safe, inclusive environment with people who are like family.” – Isaiah Kasay’s mom, Amanda
Isaiah was thrilled to get the news that he would be the face of the campaign in Wisconsin but the part that made him most excited was the opportunity to encourage others to get healthier. “I felt happy knowing that I was going to inspire other kids to be healthy,” Isaiah said.
The importance of a healthy lifestyle
He wants to serve as an inspiration to others because leading a healthy lifestyle has been such an enriching part of his and his family’s lives. “We talk about nutrition in our family, but we also talk about being active,” said Isaiah’s mom, Amanda.
But the Kasays don’t just talk about nutrition and staying active. They walk the walk. Or, more accurately, bike the bike. One of the Kasays’ favorite family activities is biking. They like to go on rides ranging in distances from 10 to even 26 miles! And knowing that moderation is key and they’ve more than earned it, they sometimes stop for a well-deserved scoop of ice cream on their longer rides.
“I felt happy knowing that I was going to inspire other kids to be healthy.” – Isaiah Kasay
In addition to biking, Isaiah’s family is also into running. One of Isaiah’s favorite pastimes is running in 5K races. He’s run the last three Run With The Cops races in Eau Claire and he even runs cross country for his junior high.
Isaiah’s Special Olympics family
Impressively, Isaiah does all of this in addition to his sports with Special Olympics Wisconsin. Isaiah competes in bowling, track & field and basketball – his favorite sport and the source of his favorite Special Olympics memory. Last year, River Valley sent a team to state basketball in its very first year of having a basketball team. Isaiah and his teammates ended up sweeping their division and earning a gold medal. After years of only offering basketball skills, team basketball is now flourishing so much at River Valley that they have two teams.
While Isaiah and Amanda were a little disappointed with how their basketball teams fared this year, they both keep things in perspective and firmly understand what Special Olympics is all about.
“Special Olympics to me means a better opportunity to challenge oneself in a safe, inclusive environment with people who are like family,” Amanda said.
The Special Olympics family feel is made possible by support like SpartanNash’s campaign featuring Isaiah. 100 percent of all funds raised during the scan campaign will help provide year-round sports training and athletic competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities across Wisconsin. Since 1985, SpartanNash has donated nearly $9.4 million to Special Olympics, and the company’s associates and their families have also volunteered thousands of hours helping at the State Summer Games.
Through support like this, athletes like Isaiah and families like the Kasays get to experience the incredible power of inclusion.
“I like Special Olympics because people are like me and it’s inclusive to everyone and their families,” Isaiah said.