Unified Sports Advocates Named 500 Parade Grand Marshals

Posted: Updated:
Mitch Bonar and Abby Abel (photo courtesy 500 Festival) Mitch Bonar and Abby Abel (photo courtesy 500 Festival)

The 500 Festival has named a pair of Hoosier college students as grand marshals for the 2018 IPL 500 Festival Parade. The organization says Abby Abel from Purdue University and Mitch Sonar from Ivy Tech Community College were chosen based on their efforts in the world of unified sports.

Abel and Sonar are high school friends who were a part of their school's Unified Track and Field team, which puts people with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team to compete. They have worked to help eliminate the stigma against people with intellectual disabilities. 

Abel is a junior at Purdue and a member of the university's omen's basketball team. She organizes the Play Unified Basketball Tournament at Purdue, a 4-on-4 tournament that pairs Special Olympics athletes from Tippecanoe County with Purdue students and student-athletes on teams, which is now in its third year. 

Sonar, who was born with cerebral palsy, travels throughout Indiana as part of the Champions Together program, which is a partnership between Special Olympics Indiana and the Indiana High School Athletic Association. He speaks to high school students about the importance of unified sports.

"Abby Abel and Mitch Sonar are true catalysts for social change," said Bob Bryant, chief executive officer of the 500 Festival. "Their tireless work to ignite change within our community is inspirational. Their ability to use sports to give a voice to everyone is remarkable and the work that they have done and continue to do will change the world. We can’t wait to join the crowd of 300,000 to celebrate their friendship and their commitment to making a difference. Their legacy and impact will be felt for countless years to come."

This year's parade will take place May 26 in downtown Indianapolis. The theme for the parade is "Illuminate. Innovate. Indianapolis." You can learn more about the parade by clicking here.

  • Perspectives

    • Focused Collaboration Leads to Effective STEM Leadership

      As a woman who has built a career in a STEM field, technology, I have come to realize that collaboration is an essential ingredient for organizational growth and survival. As my year serving as president for Women & Hi Tech comes to an end, one of the most impactful takeaways for me has been how a shared vision and strategic partnerships can help change the landscape for women studying science, technology, engineering or math in Indiana.



Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • Walmart Details Crawfordsville Layoffs

      Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) has announced plans to reduce its workforce at the Walmart Optical Lab in Crawfordsville. In a notice to the state, the company did not provide a reason for the reduction, but said 108 employees will be out of work by the end of September.

    • EnCom Polymers Investing in Evansville

      Evansville-based EnCom Polymers Inc. is bringing custom plastic production in-house. The company says it will invest nearly $15 million into acquiring the facility it currently leases, investing in new equipment and adding as many as 56 employees by 2021. EnCom Polymers also plans to add four production lines, a testing laboratory and an injection molder. The company currently employs 14 in Vanderburgh County and says it will add 17 positions immediately.

    • Indy Tech Vet to Lead DePauw Center

      DePauw University has tapped an Indianapolis tech veteran to become a part of its leadership team. Steve Fouty, who most recently served as chief financial officer of ClusterTruck in Indy, has been named director of the McDermond Center for Management and Entrepreneurship on the Greencastle campus.

    • Parent Company Seeks to Sell Lids Sports Group

      The Tennessee-based parent company of Lids Sports Group is attempting to sell the headwear and team athletics retailer that is headquartered in Zionsville. Genesco Inc. (NYSE: GCO) says it's part of an effort to focus on its footwear business, which includes Journeys locations in the United States and Schuh stores in the United Kingdom. The company says a strategic review process has found the move would create...

    • Caesars now owns Indiana Grand in Shelbyville and Hoosier Park in Anderson.

      Acquisition of Indiana Racinos Complete

      Las Vegas-based Caesars Entertainment Corp. (Nasdaq: CZR) has completed its $1.7 billion acquisition of Centaur Holdings LLC in Indianapolis. The deal adds Hoosier Park Racing and Casino in Anderson and Indiana Grand Racing and Casino in Shelbyville to Caesars' portfolio. The company says it will invest $50 million into various property improvements and IT upgrades at both facilities. Caesars says it plans to add table games to both properties, pending necessary approvals.