You can see Isaiah Kasay's friendly face this summer any time you enter a grocery store in western Wisconsin in the SpartanNash chain.
Kasay, an eighth grader at St. Croix Central Middle School, has been selected as a SpartanNash Healthy Athlete of the Year. His photo will appear on 24-pack cases of water bottles and individual water bottles sold at stores in the SpartanNash chain this summer. As Healthy Athlete of the Year, Kasay made several in-store appearances at stores around the area to promote the campaign and talk with store guests about healthy choices and Special Olympics.
Kasay competes with River Valley Special Olympics, which serves the St. Croix County area. Kasay and his teammates recently competed in a regional Special Olympics track meet in Chippewa Falls. Kasay had an outstanding day. He finished in fourth place in the shot put, second place in standing long jump, and first place in the 1,500 meters in 7 minutes, 9 seconds. He will be advancing to the state level in June for the Special Olympics Summer Games in Stevens Point to compete in the standing long jump and the 1,500-meter running event. His goal is to someday compete at nationals or globals. The first step is to win a state title, then apply to compete at the upper levels.
When you get him talking about sports is when Kasay really lights up. He said his favorite sport is basketball. Last year, his Special Olympics basketball team won the state championship. He also competed at state in basketball skills.
Isaiah's mom, Amanda, is the agency director for the River Valley organization. The family enjoys distance running together. Isaiah said his goal is to run Ragnar Minnesota, the 200-mile run that stretches over a big part of Minnesota.
"My dad inspired me to do it because he's been training to do it," Isaiah said.
He also likes to bike, which the family does to cross train. They often go on 20-mile rides.
Ben Lamb is one of Kasay's teachers at St. Croix Central Middle School. He said Kasay is highly regarded by his classmates.
"Isaiah is a great student to have around. He always has a smile on his face and works hard in and out of a classroom. He has become a great spokesperson for Special Olympics. His classmates know that he is involved and support his teams. He is a member of the eighth grade basketball and cross country teams, and competes with the same smile and commitment that you see in the classroom. His friends within the eighth grade know Isaiah as Isaiah, not as a member of a Special Olympic team, they just know him as their friend," Lamb said.