support runners with DownLLLLITL syndrome

support runners with DownLLLLITL syndrome


To celebrate World Down Syndrome Day, adidas partnered with creative agency FCB Canada and director Jason Van Bruggen to tell the story of the first adidas-sponsored athlete with Down syndrome, Chris Nikic.

Since Chris is a triathlete, a marathon runner and the world’s first Ironman with Down syndrome, the campaign has reserved the BIB 321 runner for Chris to compete with in the Boston Marathon this year – with plans expanded to allow all neurodivergent athletes to wear the BIB 321 in next year’s event as well.

Why 321? 95% of people with Down syndrome have trisomy 21, a complete copy of chromosome 21, resulting in three copies instead of two. This number is iconic to the Down Syndrome community and why we celebrate World Down Syndrome Day on 3/21.

Andrew MacPhee, executive creative director of FCB Canada, explains: “Down syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disease caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21, therefore 3-21”. The number is used extensively by the Down Syndrome community and celebrates World Down Syndrome Day every year on 21 March. “The initial spark came from our desire to create visibility and representation for neurodivergent people in running,” says Andrew. “We wanted to create a beacon for others to see what’s possible. In a sea of ​​thousands of runners, our runner had to be easy to spot. That’s why the idea of ​​booking BIB 321, a number that resonates with the Down’s Syndrome community, has become the focus of this campaign.”

FCB Canada has a history of working with the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) and brought his experience in this field to the campaign. Runner 321 is just one of the agency’s recent projects aiming to improve fitness inclusion for the Down syndrome community. “Fitness is often discouraged by doctors for people with Down syndrome. MinDSets, our global research study, is tracking the impact of fitness on cognition for people with Down syndrome then we can change that and make fitness a key part of prescribed therapy.

The shared ambition between adidas, FCB Canada and Jason was to advance inclusion in sport – and they’ve already achieved it “an overwhelming and positive response” by parents of neurodivergent children, who see themselves represented for the first time. Andrew says: “An especially poignant post from a mother of a two-year-old says the video gave her hope for her son and she would use it to show him what will be possible for him. We’re also seeing people come forward to support him. An Olympian has offered to train anyone with Down syndrome to become the next 321 Runner. So we know this initiative is already having an impact in showing people what inclusion means in traditional sports.”


When people with Down syndrome don’t see themselves represented in sport, they are unable to see what is possible for them. As a brand, adidas has a unique mission to break down barriers for marginalized communities and prove to the world that “impossible is nothing”.

As part of their goal to partner with the world’s best athletes from diverse backgrounds, adidas recently sponsored Chris Nikic, the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete the Ironman. This made Chris the first globally sponsored athlete with Down syndrome. Chris is a shining example of what is possible and an inspiration to the next generation of neurodivergent athletes.

Our goal was to create a social movement to include neurodivergent athletes in the most accessible sport in the world: running. We’ve targeted the top six marathons to help raise awareness and to include a minimum of 100 races to add a Runner 321 in 2023.


Sports fans idolize and identify with those who achieve the impossible. One of the most common symbols to inspire the next generation of athletes is an iconic number. Michael Jordan’s 23, Lionel Messi’s 10 or Wayne Gretzky’s 99. Iconic numbers representing perseverance, dedication and the pinnacle of athletic achievement.

The iconic numbers have been revered as a symbol of the best athletes of all time. In reality, they have only represented athletes who fall within the confines of traditional sport. We set out to create the iconic first issue to represent an entire community of neurodivergent athletes who are surpassing what society thinks they can achieve.

Introducing Runner 321, the adidas-led movement asking the world’s major marathons to reserve the Bib 321 for a qualifying neurodivergent athlete. The number 321 was specially chosen because it represents Trisomy 21 for people with Down syndrome.


Our target audience was aspiring and current neurodivergent athletes who are often relegated to separate competitions. These separate events signal that neurodivergent athletes are unable to participate in traditional competitions, which is far from the truth. Our strategy was to partner with the right brand and the right athlete to create a social movement of inclusion.

As a global manufacturer of sportswear, adidas was in a unique position to make a historic change for neurodivergent athletes. adidas’ core belief is that sport has the power to change lives, making it perfectly suited to removing barriers for people with Down syndrome.

Chris Nikic, the first athlete with Down syndrome to complete the Ironman, was the perfect person to lead a movement aimed at inspiring the next generation of neurodivergent athletes. Chris’s partnership with adidas made him the first globally sponsored athlete with Down syndrome. Chris shows what’s possible for the neurodivergent community to do.


Launching on World Down Syndrome Day, 21 March 2022, our motivational video features adidas sponsored athlete Chris Nikic. Our campaign landing page encouraged other races to participate and offered a Runner 321 toolkit with race instructions, social posts, and more.

We’ve run initiatives at the New York and Boston Marathons with the acquisition of the adidas New York store on 5th Avenue and cheer sections at mile 3.21 of the races. Once the Boston Marathon was completed, Chris presented his bib to the next Runner 321, Kayleigh Williamson, in preparation for the 2023 race.

All six of the world’s major marathons (Boston, New York, Tokyo, London, Berlin and Chicago) have now reserved bib 321 for a neurodivergent athlete, despite four of them being sponsored by Nike, New Balance and Asics, our competitors more difficult . Our movement has reached a global scale and we continue to add more races.


adidas’ Runner 321 campaign started a social movement that continues to grow. Our campaign hero is Chirs Nikic, an athlete with Down syndrome who is also an Ironman, ESPY winner, Special Olympics ambassador, public speaker, published author, adidas sponsored athlete and inspiration for the global neurodivergent community. All of the other athletes featured in our communications have Down syndrome, creating visibility and awareness of what athletes with Down syndrome can accomplish.

All six of the world’s largest marathons, including four sponsored by Nike, New Balance and Asics, have reserved a spot for Runner 321 in their 2023 events

278 athletes and counting have signed up to be the next Runner 321

To date, 252 races have committed to adding a Runner 321

59 placements earned for 268 million impressions including Forbes, The Boston Herald, Barstool Sports, Yahoo! and MSN Sports.



Brand: adidas. Advertising agency: FCB, Toronto (Canada). Production: 456 STUDIOS Toronto. Postproduction: Alter Ego Toronto; Toronto school editorial board. Music and Sound: Oso Audio Toronto; Citizen Music Toronto. PR: Toronto’s current PR.


Director, Sportswear and Footwear Brand Communication: Dustin Geddis. NAM Sports Marketing: Ordono Hygiene. Senior Director, Brand Communications, Running Footwear: Josie Johnson. Running Footwear: Andrew Lemoncello. Assist. Head, Digital Publishing: Emily Crueger. Digital Content Manager: Sally Rubey. Senior Head of Digital Content: Rene Hirschbolz.

FCB extension

Creative director: Nancy Crimi-Lamanna. Executive Vice President, Global Creative Partner: Danilo Boer. Executive Creative Director: Andrew MacPhee. Executive Creative Director: Cuanan Cronwright. Executive Creative Director: Leonardo Barbosa. Associate Creative Director: Sally Fung. Associate Creative Director: Sara Radovanovich. Civil Society Director: Shelley Brown. Senior Strategist: Audrey Zink. Vice President, Chief Executive Officer: Tim Welsh. Vice President, Chief Executive Officer: Ricky Jacobs. Account Supervisor: Chris Flynn. Vice President, Chief Executive Officer Content: Ian Buck. Vice President, Content Development: Yotam Dor. Project Management Director: Emily Mihalek.

456 studies

Vice President, Integrated Manufacturing: Stef Fabich. Director, TV Production/Producer: Sarah Michener.

Scholastic editorial staff

Executive Producer: Sarah Brooks. Editor: Lynn Sheehy. Assist. Editor: Fiona Alvarez. Alter Ego Colorist: Andrew Ross. Color assistant: Ebi Agbeyegbe. Online artist: Sebastian Boros. Online assistant: Nupur Desai. Producer: Spencer Butt. Oso Audio Creative Director: Daenen Bramberger. Producer: Lauren Dobbie. Executive Producer: Hannah Graham. Sound Engineer: Dylan Groff.

City music

Junior producer: Kai Rizzuto. Production manager: Molly Young. Creative director: Tomas Jacobi. Composer: Nico Barry.

Current PR

Senior Vice President, Customer Experience: Shannon McGovern. Account Director: Sara Koerner. CEO: Virginia Devlin.


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