Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom Park

I runDisney for ‘Dad Time’

posted on June 6th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but for Matt Swartz of Gilbert, AZ, one particular photo translates into two words, “life changing.”

As with the majority of runners, Swartz began running for for health and fitness, and wanted to lose weight. A life change ignited with the snap of a camera. What started as a commitment to his son to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for his 17th birthday, turned into a passion for running.

Through healthy eating and exercise, Swartz lost 150 lbs over a two-year period. Losing the weight not only allowed him to summit the mountain with his son, but along the way he fueled his daughters passion for running and they joined him on his journey. What began as exercise turned into something greater and more precious, “dad time.”

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Earlier this year Swartz’s daughter, Emmalie, asked him to run the Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort. “And what’s a dad going to do? Of course you’re going to run the Princess,” Swartz said. With an agreement that he could wear a tutu, the father – daughter team was off and running.

Take a moment to watch this inspiring journey of weight loss, newfound love of life and family and of course finishing the Princess Half Marathon.

I invite you to visit runDisney.com and find an event to start your journey to a healthy active lifestyle.

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#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload your story, visit irundisney.com.

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Youth Soccer Team Scores Trip to Brazil at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

posted on May 30th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Nearly 600 teams from across the country took to the fields at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort for the Disney Memorial Day Soccer Shootout presented by Danimals. The three-day competition is one of the largest youth tournaments in the country.

For 18 U12 teams playing in the Dannon Division, the stakes were a little higher than just trying to win a championship. These teams were playing in the Danone Nations Cup US Qualifying Tournament. The winning team receives an all expense trip to Brazil later this year following the World Cup, to compete against 39 other nations for an international championship.

The championship game on Memorial Day featured two teams from Florida, Jacksonville FC v. Weston FC. After a tough defensive battle and a scoreless first half, Jacksonville scored on a penalty kick late in the second half to edge out Weston 1-0.

At ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex we strive to provide youth athletes the chance to enjoy a professional experience and now these young boys will have the experience of a lifetime. The chance to represent U.S.A. in Brazil is a dream come true for Jacksonville FC.

From all of us at Disney Sports, good luck Jacksonville FC!

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ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort hosts more than 350 events a year on more than 230-acres. It is the premier site for amateur sport in the nation and has hosted more than 70 different sports and athletes from around the world. For more information on Disney soccer tournaments and other sporting events, visit espnwwos.com.

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Behind the Scenes With America’s Funniest Home Videos at Walt Disney World

posted on May 16th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


What do you get when you combine Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto, Dopey, Darth Vader, Chewbacca and Tom Bergeron? You get one of the funniest season finales of America’s Funniest Home Videos, and we have the pictures to prove it.

Recently the hit TV show wrapped up its 24th season with the taping of the grand prize award show at Walt Disney World Resort. Now I won’t ruin the surprise and tell you who wins the Disney Parks Vacation Grand Prize, but I will share behind the scenes photos of Bergeron showing his goofy side, his dark side, his Disney Side.

Behind the Scenes With America’s Funniest Home Videos at Walt Disney World

Be sure to catch more of Tom Bergeron’s #DisneySide and find out who wins the grand prize when the season finale of America’s Funniest Home Videos airs Sunday, May 18, at 7|6c on ABC.

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In ‘The Middle’ of the Heck Family Vacation at Walt Disney World Resort

posted on May 14th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


What the heck are the Hecks doing at Walt Disney World Resort? Well we can’t tell you how they got here or how the family vacation turns out, but we can give you the inside scoop and a behind-the-scenes look at why they were here.

In 'The Middle' of the Heck Family Vacation at Walt Disney World Resort

For the first time in show history, producers of “The Middle” packed their suitcases and took the show on the road for the Season Five finale. That’s right, a real Heck family vacation. With a few twists and turns, the entire cast and production crew made their way to Magic Kingdom Park for five days of shooting.

Showing their “Disney Side,” cast members enjoyed meeting their favorite Disney characters, enjoying adventurous rides and eating their way around the park. It was a chance to get out of the studio and meet fans.

This video shows some of the fun cast and crew had in front of the camera and behind the scenes. And you won’t want to miss this hilarious Heck family vacation when “The Middle” season finale airs on Wednesday, May 21 at 8:00 p.m.|7:00 p.m. (CDT) on ABC.

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I runDisney For My Daughter, I Race For a Cure

posted on May 9th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


She runs because her daughter can’t. She runs to raise awareness for Rett Syndrome. She runs Disney to find a cure and to one day hear her daughter say, “I love you mommy.”

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Allison Foley of Orange County, Calif., runs for a cause. She runs for her daughter and hundreds of other daughters across the country who suffer from a heart breaking disease. In 2003, Emma Foley was born a happy beautiful baby girl, but in 2005 dreams were shattered when she was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome. The disease takes away her ability to talk, to use her hands and her ability to walk without assistance. Running with the Girl Power 2 Cure team, Allison joined other families to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World Resort to raise awareness for the disease.

After the half marathon Allison said, “this was the most fantastic run of my life.” No Allison, your “best” run is yet to come, that will happen the day Emma runs by your side. Believe.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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In Search of Yeti at the Expedition Everest Challenge at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

posted on May 6th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


More than 5,000 runners came in search of the Yeti during the Expedition Everest Challenge this past weekend. Participants braved the elements and conquered their fears as they ran 3.1 miles throughout Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The nighttime adventure included obstacles like jumping over hay bales and crawling under nets. After completing the 5K runners went back into the theme park for a scavenger hunt. Once participants solved four clues they were allowed to cross the finish line and receive their commemorative Compass finisher medal. It was a real “wild” night.

With the exception of few participants dressed as Yetis, there were no actual confirmed reports of a “real” Yeti sighting, and all runners are accounted for. We call that a success.

Here is a look at this year’s Expedition Everest Challenge and we hope to see you at next year’s event.

If you didn’t get the chance to join us this year and are interested in experiencing Disney in a whole new way by participating in events like these, you can visit runDisney.com and sign-up for the runDisney email and receive notifications about upcoming events. We also invite you to follow us on runDisney Facebook, Twitter @runDisney and on runDisney Instagram for exciting news and future opportunities.

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Today’s Lesson Plan: runDisney

posted on April 25th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


I want you to stop for a moment and think of a teacher who has had a major impact on your life. A teacher whose lesson plans went beyond the four corners of a classroom and carried you out into the real world. With that in mind I want to introduce you to Mindy Przeor, an elementary school physical education teacher in Mesa, AZ.

Running has always been a passion for this 34-year-old athlete. She uses it as a way to get to know herself, a way to see how far she can push herself, a chance set goals and an opportunity to build self confidence. It has taught her to be patient and overcome challenges. All values she feels today’s kids need to learn. “I think if we can teach kids at a young age to believe in themselves, to try new things, to set goals and empower them with those concepts, I think their going to go so much further in life,” says Mindy.

Looking to make a difference she got the support of the school administration and created a running club for students at her school. Something she once did for herself, she now teaches and shares with her students. What started out with 20 students the first year has more than double to 40 – 50 kids. The club meets twice a week after school to train and they participate in a community 5K or 10K once a month.

In January Mindy was able to create magic for three of her students. Working with the school district and parents she brought three girls to run the inaugural Tinker Bell 10K at Disneyland Resort in California. The kids were excited to take their first trip to Disney and experience two of their favorite things, rides and running.

I invite you to watch Mindy’s story and see how she inspires her students beyond the classroom.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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New runDisney Anniversary Medals Revealed

posted on April 14th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


As runners start to plan their fall and winter race schedules, we thought it would be fun to provide some extra motivation and reveal a little “bling.” Disney Yellow Shoes Art Director David Brotherton has been busy designing two amazing finisher medals to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and the 10th anniversary of the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge.

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The Wine and Dine anniversary medal captures the essence of the race with color and design, and features a spinner at the heart of the medal. One side represents the tradition of past medals and is inspired by Spaceship Earth, while the other side showcases chef Mickey on the run. A fitting reward to those taking on the sold-out half marathon in November.

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Registration for the 2015 Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna opens on April 22 and we are thinking this Goofy Challenge anniversary medal might be just enough to get some people thinking a little, well, Goofy. After all, running a half marathon on Saturday and a marathon on Sunday puts you in a unique category. Looking at the medal there is no doubt we are celebrating the 10th anniversary. Featuring traditional Goofy colors, this medal also has a spinner in the middle. One side celebrates the accomplishment of the half marathon, and when you spin it, Goofy turns upside down and lets you know you added on another 26.2 miles, a grand total of 39.3 miles over two days. Goofy.

runDisney is proud of all our finisher medals and think these anniversary medals will excite our runners and be something they will be proud of earning when they cross the finish line.

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Running for Honor, Running for Hope at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend presented by Cigna

posted on April 11th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


Linda Ambard from Boston is no stranger to running, she has been logging miles since high school. After college she focused on distance running, and with the support of her husband and family set a goal to run a marathon in all 50 states. But sometimes life is like running. You are traveling down the road, perfect stride, when all of the sudden you hit “the wall.” That moment when you feel you just can’t go any further. It is when you pull yourself together, perhaps change your goals, but continue to push through and move forward. That is exactly what happened in Linda’s life.

For several weeks I have shared amazing inspirational stories of runDisney runners from all four corners of the United States. Today’s story has left me without words. I have tried to find perfect lines to accompany Linda’s video but I can’t. The only person who can tell her story is Linda herself. I hope you will take a few minutes to watch Linda’s profile as we honor her husband, celebrate her new found happiness and learn from her message of hope.

#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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Running For Her Life at the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend

posted on March 28th, 2014 by Robert Hitchcock, PR Manager/Content Producer, runDisney


What started as a bucket-list goal turned into Kimberly Markey’s run for life. This wife and mother of two from Connecticut started running in 2008, setting her sights on completing the 2009 Walt Disney World Marathon presented by Cigna. Her one-and-done adventure turned into a love and passion for running. Little did she know running would help her through one of the most difficult fights of her life.

In July 2013 Kimberly was diagnosed with breast cancer. With the support of her family and doctors she continued to run. Family time and training was now shared with surgery and chemotherapy. Although some days it was tough to even get out of bed, running made her feel normal, gave her strength and happiness. Kimberly’s oncologist believes running is helping in her battle against cancer and is keeping her on the road to recovery.

But this isn’t a story of sadness, this is a story of inspiration and celebration. On January 2nd Kimberly received her 6th and final chemotherapy treatment. Just five days later on January 8th she and her family came to Walt Disney World to play together, run together and celebrate life. To mark the occasion of her last treatment Kimberly took on the inaugural Dopey Challenge, running a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon, 48.6 miles over four days! This runDisney challenge was important to Kimberly because it reinforced her belief that she can do anything and crossing the finish line on the last day made a statement, “Look at me world, I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.”

Kimberly’s message to anyone thinking about running, “You can do anything you want to do – all you have to do is believe in yourself, make a goal and just do it.”

I invite you to take a few minutes to watch Kimberly’s story and join all of us as we celebrate her run for life.

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#WhyIrunDisney is dedicated to sharing compelling and motivational human-interest stories. To view submissions and to learn how to upload and your story, visit irundisney.com.

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