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This weekend, a relay race comprising more than 20 teams helped raise money for High Sierra Industries (HSI), a nonprofit organization in Reno that serves people with disabilities.

The X-Treme Ability Challenge brought more than 200 people to the HSI building to compete in different events. The X-Treme Ability Challenge is an annual relay race that has competitors perform different tasks -- and complete them as quickly as possible -- that are designed to simulate what it is like to work with a disability.

The relay race is a fundraiser for HSI,  which provides skills training, career development, training for living independently and much more. This was the first time since 2007 that the event has been held.

The main sponsor of the event was Hometown Health.

The various teams were made up from a variety of corporations, organizations and community members. Some of the teams included:

  • Local politicians (sponsored by AT&T)
  • Renown
  • First Independent Bank
  • ITS Logistics
  • Wells Fargo
  • Waste Management
  • Chair 7 Films 

"I'm very excited. We've had a great turnout so far," LaVonne Brooks, President and CEO of HSI said. "People are having a great time. We want that wonderful feeling of excitement and joy when we come together and have fun together as a community."

It cost $1,000 to place a team in the relay race. HSI hopes to have raised approximately $17,000 from the event that will go to HSI's operations. To put this in perspective, Brooks explains HSI spends up to $10,000 per year on precaution supplies alone, which include adult briefs and gloves.

There were four different stations set up for the relay race, each representing a disability. The first station simulated a manual disability, where participants needed to use a manual tool with a specific glove that would hinder their ability to use the tool; the second represented a sight disability, where people wore vision-impairing glasses and had to place stickers on a tag; the third represented a hearing disability, at which participants had to communicate with sign language; and the fourth station represented a mobility impairment, where individuals needed to pass through a door in a wheelchair.

"We took our employees and figured out what they were best at," Deana Christie with the Waste Management team said. "We also strategized and watched people."

The top five teams ranked in the competition as follows:

  1. Waste Management
  2. Chair 7 Films
  3. First Independent Bank
  4. City of Reno
  5. NV Energy

"It was an eye-opener," Christie said. "There is no way to prepare. You come, you do what you do and you figure it out."

There was also a barbecue that provided food to the participants and family members of those involved in the relay race.

Brooks sees the relay race as an even more important event than just a fundraiser for HSI. She says it places people with disabilities in a strong and empowering position.

"It's really about the joy of working together for the population of people we're serving, people with disabilities," Brooks said. "Our goal is to really highlight people with disabilities as employees. We've recruited companies to be teams, so they can really get a sense of the talent and skill of people with disabilities."

Click here to learn more about High Sierra Industries.

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