The Lift-A-Thon event took place at the USD Wellness Center, where participants from various backgrounds, including students and local athletes, showcased their physical prowess in a friendly yet competitive lifting competition. The event not only highlighted the participants' dedication to physical fitness but also their commitment to supporting an important cause.

“This event was an incredible show of community and the competitive spirit,” said Ashton Hallsted-Kallhoff, USD physical therapy student and lead event organizer. “To see so many strangers of different ages and backgrounds cheering each other on and supporting one another is what this is all about. We are thrilled by the turnout and the generosity of our community. This fundraiser not only helps support the incredible athletes of the Special Olympics but also reinforces the importance of inclusivity in sports and wellness."

All proceeds from the event will directly benefit the Special Olympics South Dakota’s mission to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children (eight years and older) and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.

The event was made possible through the support of local businesses and community members who sponsored the event, volunteered their time and contributed donations. The Lift-A-Thon was started several years ago by a Wellness Center personal trainer and previous USD physical therapy student, Ryan Hanks.

“We cannot thank the USD Department of Physical Therapy enough for the support that this event has provided,” said Darryl Nordquist, president at South Dakota Special Olympics. “Our athletes, coaches and volunteers appreciate the kindness and generosity of the entire group.”

Plans are already underway for next year's event, with hopes to exceed this year's fundraising goals and include a greater number of participants.

For more information about the Lift-A-Thon, how to get involved or to make a donation, please contact the USD Wellness Center at or the USD Department of Physical Therapy at

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