Spartan Spirit Awards: Shriners Hospitals & 'Team No Limits' Embody the Spartan Spirit

Spartan Spirit Awards: Shriners Hospitals & 'Team No Limits' Embody the Spartan Spirit

In our Spartan Spirit Awards, we celebrate the people who truly embody the key Spartan values: grit, determination, and perseverance. This week's Spirit Awards winner Shriners Hospitals for Children is revolutionizing healthcare for kids and helping them to navigate life’s obstacles—every day. Find out what Shriners spokesman Sean Coveleski had to say about bringing OCR to children struggling with medical conditions.

“The characteristics of Spartans and our patients are quite similar: They are mentally strong and will push through any hurdle to be their best.”

— Sean Coveleski, Senior Director of Corporate Engagement, Shriners Hospitals for Children

Spartan usually gives its Spartan Spirit Awards to individuals who exhibit grit, but this time around we’re awarding it to a non-profit hospital system that is relentless in its determination to give kids recovering from serious injuries and medical conditions the best, most active lives possible.

Related: Spartan Spirit Award: Kirk Framke Eyes the Podium in TWO World Championships

Shriners Hospitals for Children treat kids with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate, in locations throughout the United States, as well as in Canada and Mexico. What's more, children receive excellent care regardless of a family’s ability to pay. Their health care teams go to great lengths to empower children mentally and physically because it takes a tremendous amount of grit for a child to rehabilitate after a major injury or surgery.

This is why we, at Spartan, think Shriners Hospitals deserves this Spartan Spirit Award. Since 2018, Shriners Hospitals and the Spartan Kids Foundation have been partnering to give children in rehabilitation programs the experience of victory over physical obstacles, and to raise funds to treat the patients in Shriners Hospitals’ care. Sean Coveleski, Senior Director of Corporate Engagement at Shriners Hospitals, shares more on the partnership and how you can get involved.

Related: How Fran Martinez Found Strength in His Darkest Moment

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A Q&A with Shriners Hospitals' Sean Coveleski

Can you tell me about the history of the partnership between Spartan & Shriners Hospitals for Children?

Sean Coveleski: Shriners Hospitals connected with the Spartan Kids Foundation in 2017 after a group of patients suited up, got muddy and competed in a race as a team. Realizing how much fun our patients had, and how much confidence they gained, Shriners Hospitals formed “Team No Limits” and worked with Spartan on a fundraising campaign to highlight the strength of the children in our care. We worked to show the world that we empower our patients to believe, “I am STRONG! I am BRAVE, I am FEARLESS!”

The formal partnership between Shriners Hospitals for Children and Spartan began in 2018 and is going strong. We have been involved in 15 events so far in various race markets, bringing more than 100 patients to the starting line to become Spartans. Our presence at these events has allowed our team to speak with top athletes, garner funding and inspire patients and their families. 

SR: What did it mean for “Team No Limits” to meet Spartan Pros Lindsay Webster and former World Champion Robert Killian at the Utah race in July?

SC: The icing on the cake for our team in Utah was getting to meet Lindsay Webster and Robert Killian. That day, we had an apprehensive athlete on our hands. Jump forward two hours later, post-race, and we see the same child on the shoulders of Robert Killian, having a blast and living his best life. To say the experience was special would be an understatement. This day was transformative.

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SR: Why is the Spartan model beneficial to the kids in your care?

SC: It takes so much determination to heal. The kids who race on “Team No Limits” are patients who have shown interest in Spartan as a way to reach their rehab goals. Everyone is running their own race at Spartan, and that’s exactly why our kids get so much out of it. Our patients have to overcome obstacles every day of their lives, and Spartan normalizes the struggle and gives them so much confidence in themselves. I remember one patient in particular who was reserved and timid before the race, but after he accomplished the race he came out of his shell. In addition, it’s so meaningful for the parents to see their kids triumph in this way.  

SR: Where do donations on behalf of “Team No Limits” go?  

SC: These donations support Shriners Hospitals’ mission to change and improve children’s lives by providing excellent medical care, conducting world-class research, and offering outstanding medical education to health care professionals. We treat children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries and cleft lip and palate regardless of a family’s ability to pay. 

SR: How can people get involved in Team No Limits?

SC: As we speak, we are preparing the teams for the race at Fenway in November (11/9), as well as the Central Florida race in December (12/8). Spartan participants can race on behalf of #TeamNoLimits. You can donate or fundraise on behalf of the team or a specific athlete here. Thank you for helping us give as many children as possible the chance to live their best life.

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