Volunteers who share a passion for an active lifestyle regularly dedicate their time to individuals who have a medical disability.
The volunteers make up Team Kevin Strive, which was started to raise awareness and to show that people who have a medical disability can still be participants in an active lifestyle.
The nonprofit Team Kevin Strive started when Kim Hansen, of Freehold Township, entered herself and her son, Kevin, 16, in a race. Hansen said Kevin is a special needs child who is medically fragile, but loves to be active.
Hansen and her son have been racing for three years, while Team Kevin Strive is 1 year old.
“My passion is to let Kevin experience anything he can and wants to experience,” Hansen said. “It makes me really excited and happy to see him doing things he enjoys.”
She said Team Kevin Strive’s goal is to raise money that can be used to purchase wheelchairs that have been designed for racing. The equipment allows individuals who have special needs to participate in races in ways that would otherwise not be possible.
“We have racing chairs, bike chairs and even boat chairs that pull the kids in the water,” Hansen said. “Our motto is you can do anything if you just try.”
She said Team Kevin Strive provides opportunities to individuals with special needs who want the thrill of racing by providing a “pit crew” and racing chairs for races of different distances.
“This past year we have done two triathlons and numerous 5K runs,” Hansen said. “Being disabled does not mean you cannot achieve your goals. It is just amazing how unselfish everyone is in helping those in need. You want to help these kids have a really good experience.
“What is so amazing is that these volunteers come just because they want to. When they see these kids smile, they want to come back and do more with them and the kids just have a great time,” she added.
Team Kevin Strive is sponsored by Hooters restaurants. Hansen said Hooters and the Elizabeth Police Department help to raise awareness and money so that children who have special needs may have an active and fun lifestyle.
“The kids hit the finish line and there is really nothing more tear-jerking than going through that with the child you are pushing,” she said.
Individuals who would like to volunteer for Team Kevin Strive may visit the website www.teamkevinstrive.org for additional information.