Forward Motion…The Arc Audi Racing Program Expands in 2013

The Arc Audi RacecarThe Arc Audi Racing Program kicks off our second season at the Pirelli World Challenge Series at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in Florida March 23.

Although car owner and driver Don Istook will be sidelined for this particular race, The Arc Audi Racing team will still be at the track to host 20 individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, support staff and chapter staff from UPARC, a chapter of The Arc in the St. Pete area.

These individuals will serve as “honorary pit crew” members for a day and get hands-on in the paddock with drivers and crews as they prepare for the races and then get to cheer on their favorites as they compete for points in the Pirelli World Challenge Series. And The Arc will be working to raise awareness among race fans and the media of the valuable contributions people with I/DD can make if given a chance. Check out this video from award-winning documentary filmmaker Heidi Reinberg, who captured the excitement of the program in Sonoma, CA last year.

Team owner Don Istook and his wife Laurie share The Arc’s commitment to ensuring that people with I/DD are fully included, especially when it comes to employment opportunities. Laurie’s brother, Mark Hiett, was diagnosed with Fragile X, but that has not stopped him from working as an integral part of Don’s RS Werkes race team. Don and Laurie wanted to give other people with I/DD a taste of what it might be like to be part of a fast-paced race crew and came to The Arc with a unique idea to include individuals in the excitement of race day as the team moves from town to town to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge Series.

Follow The Arc Audi Racing Program as we take yet another exciting ride with Don and his team. The program has expanded to include 9 races with chapters of The Arc in 5 states plus Toronto, Canada, where we will be partnering with Inclusion International to bring Canadian guests to the track. The Arc’s national office will be posting updates from the races on Facebook, Twitter and their blog in the coming months. And you can see the races live online and on later broadcast by NBC Sports (full broadcast schedule).

Meet The Arc Audi Racing Team

By Heidi Reinberg

When I first read about The Arc Audi Racing Program, it seemed like a perfect, organic melding of individual moxie, nonprofit derring-do, and corporate social initiative.  Here was a race-car driver – Don Istook – who was inspired to share his love of racing with those with I/DD, and The Arc and Audi came along for the ride.

And what a ride it was!  The roar of the engines, the thrum of activity in the pit and on the sidelines, the colorful blur of the cars as they sped past at lightning speed– the excitement of my first day at the races was equally matched by the sheer exuberance of our Arc Audi crew.

Though I’m currently making documentaries, I’ve been involved in nonprofit and volunteering my entire life – since I was 13, I’ve believed that, whether it’s over a day or over the course of several years, each of us has the capacity to make a difference in someone else’s life.   That belief has been borne out time and time again in my work with such terrific organizations as City Cares of America, The Fresh Air Fund, The Bronx Documentary Center, and, now, with The Arc and The Arc Audi Racing Program.

A very special thanks to Trudy Jacobson and Kristen McKiernan from The Arc’s national headquarters and to Marti Sullivan, Meredith Manning, and Pat Napoliello of The Arc San Francisco for their assistance in making this film happen.

Heidi Reinberg

Heidi Reinberg

About Heidi Reinberg:
A lifelong organizational wonk, Heidi Reinberg has consulted for a wide variety of charitable organizations, advising on topics ranging from nonprofit startup to board development and fundraising to volunteer management and corporate partnerships. Her work covers a broad swath of issues: animal welfare, foster care, reproductive rights, public health, human rights, and developmental disabilities.

In the late ‘90s Heidi decided to put her skills to creative use and began producing social-issue films for HBO, PBS, and LOGO, among others. At present, Heidi is partnering with Oscar winner Ross Kauffman (Born Into Brothels) as Executive Producers of a series about conflict photographers; the project is currently in development as a fictional series at NBCUniversal. She recently founded Heidi Reinberg Big Idea, LLC to support visionary social entrepreneurs by providing project management services.

Don and Laurie Istook of Istook’s Motorsports to Receive National Award at The Arc’s Convention

Washington, DC – On October 25, Don and Laurie Istook will receive The Arc’s Image and Inclusion Award during the National Convention and International Forum. This award recognizes a person or group who has had an impact on accurate and positive portrayals of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). In 2012, The Arc launched The Arc Audi Racing Program, a new partnership between The Arc and Istook’s Motorsports. The program provides 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 across the country, and serve as “Honorary Crew Members” with Don’s team.

“There is still a lingering misperception that individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities can’t have meaningful jobs in the community. Don and Laurie Istook know better than that and have helped open the eyes of the racing community and many others through their work running The Arc Audi Racing Program. We admire the Istooks for bringing this innovative idea to The Arc earlier this year, but most of all we admire their work to promote the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in the community, the workforce, and now on racetracks across the country,” said Peter V. Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Long time racer and 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 team 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 an integral part of five races in 2012. Participants in The Arc Audi Racing Program have been able to see the cars, talk to the crew and play a hands-on role in preparing the cars for the race. Chapters of The Arc have attended Pirelli World Challenge races in Long Beach, CA; Monterey, CA; Detroit, MI; Lexington, OH; and Sonoma, CA. With this experience in hand from 2012, the team is preparing for an even greater 2013 season, which will feature an additional Audi TT RS to make a two car team.

Speaking about her brother, Mark, Laurie Istook said: “Mark loves being able to say ‘I work for a race team.’ It just gives him a meaning and a purpose for his life. It gives him something to look forward to – that’s what we all want.”

She added: “I remember after the first race this year, Don came over and just hugged me for the longest time. And he said ‘I don’t ever remember feeling this great after a race.’”

Previous recipients of The Arc’s Image and Inclusion award include Lauren Potter and Robin Trocki from the hit TV show Glee and Dr. Temple Grandin, world renowned scientist.

Disability Advocates from Across the Globe Share the Stage at The Arc’s National Convention and International Forum

Washington, DC – Next week, The Arc will play host to nearly a thousand disability advocates from across the globe during The 2012 National Convention and International Forum.  The theme, “Achieving Inclusion Across the Globe,” reflects The Arc’s partnership with Inclusion International for this year’s convention.  This four day event will allow world renowned advocates, self-advocates, experts in the disability field, and family members of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to come together and discuss shared experiences, policy, and advocacy techniques.

“We look forward to addressing issues facing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities not only domestically but internationally during this year’s convention.  I hope each attendee can leave with the knowledge that their advocacy work, research, and experiences are shared with millions across the globe who are also working to promote inclusion for individuals with disabilities,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

Professional race car driver and Istook Motorsports owner Don Istook and his wife Laurie are being honored with The Arc’s Image and Inclusion Award this year. This award recognizes a person or group who has had an impact on accurate and positive portrayals of individuals with I/DD.  In 2012, The Arc launched The Arc Audi Rac­ing Program in partnership with Is­took’s Motorsports. The program allowed individuals with I/DD the chance to be part of a fast-paced professional race crew as Honorary Crew Members at select races in the Pirelli World Challenge.

The Arc will also be presenting the 2012 Advocacy Matters! Award to The Arc of Virginia. Earlier this year, The Arc of Virginia’s advocacy efforts were rewarded when the Commonwealth of Virginia and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement requiring the state to move people with I/DD out of institutions and provide community-based services through Medicaid waivers and family supports for thousands of individuals with I/DD.

Some of the featured speakers include: Rosangela Berman-Bieler, Chief of the UNICEF Disability Section, Vivian Fernández de Torrijos, former First Lady of the Republic of Panama,  Eve Hill, Senior Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, and Ricardo Thornton, an inspiring self-advocate who speaks publicly about his life in the community with his family.

Charging through Belle Isle Raceway with The Arc!

By Laurie Istook, wife of driver Don Istook

The Arc Audi Racing Program

As Don and I tour the country for the Pirelli World Challenge, we have had the opportunity to meet many amazing individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) through The Arc Audi Racing Program. Most recently we were in Detroit at the Belle Isle Raceway. We were joined by staffers and self-advocates from The Arc of Western Wayne County.

The time leading up to the race and prepping with our new friends from The Arc was wonderful. From teaching them about the car, to having them help Don and his team get ready for the race it was an exciting time for all of us. The real highlight came after the race when Don won the “Hard Charger” award for the race. He won because he moved ahead of more cars during the race than any other driver.

While accepting his award on the winner’s podium, Don dedicated it to my brother Mark and our visitors from The Arc.  He let everyone know that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities can be “hard chargers” too if they are just given the chance.

We look forward to more races, victories, and of course to continuing our work with The Arc and their local chapters.

The New Arc Audi Racing Program Gives People with Disabilities a Hands-On Look at the Racing World

Washington, DC – The Arc is excited to announce The Arc Audi Racing Program, a new partnership between The Arc and Istook’s Motorsports.  The goal is to provide a unique opportunity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (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.

A partnership with Istook’s Motorsports, Volkswagen Group of America and the Pirelli World Challenge series, The Arc Audi Racing Program will invite 20 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.  This year, The Arc Audi Racing Program expects to compete in Utah, Michigan, Ohio, in three races in California, and one in Canada.  The first race will be Sunday, April 15 in Long Beach, California, with The Arc of Los Angeles and Orange Counties participating.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities the opportunity to be a part of a professional race crew team for a day. Through this partnership, we hope to show the public that people with I/DD are capable of achieving their dreams in the professional field of their choice, including the motor sport industry,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

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 an integral part of seven races this year. Participants will be 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.

“Mark and Tyson have really taken to the motorsports industry, and they have opened my eyes to the fact that people with disabilities can be a part of any profession with the right support.  This partnership with The Arc was really just an idea Laurie and I had that we hoped would allow more people with disabilities to experience what we experience at the race track, and it has blossomed into a great opportunity for us and for The Arc’s network,” said Don Istook.

Start Your Engines!

The Arc Audi TT Race Car

The Arc is excited to race into cities across the country with Istook’s Motorsports, Volkswagen Group of America and the Pirelli World Challenge Series to raise awareness of The Arc and and I/DD among racing fans everywhere.

We officially kick of The Arc Audi Racing Program at the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 15. Twenty individuals from The Arc of Los Angeles and Orange Counties, including people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are heading to the racetrack to serve as honorary crew members for Istook’s Motorsports. They’ll get hands-on in the paddock with the drivers and crews as they prepare for the race and then watch the team compete for point in the Prielli World Challenge Series with their Audi TT RS.

Team owner Don Istook and his wife Laurie share The Arc’s commitment to ensuring that people with I/DD are fully included, especially when it comes to employment opportunities. Laurie’s brothers Mark and Tyson Heitt both were diagnosed with Fragile X, but that has not stopped them from working as an integral part of Don’s race team. Don and Laurie wanted to give other people with I/DD a taste of what it might be like to be part of a fast-paced race crew and came to The Arc with a unique idea to include individuals in the excitement of race day as the team moves from town to town to compete in the Pirelli World Challenge Series.

Follow The Arc Audi Racing Program as we take this exciting ride with Don and his team. The Arc’s national office will be posting updates from the races on Facebook, Twitter and our blog in the coming months. And you can see the races live online and on later broadcast by NBC Sports (full broadcast schedule).