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GUTS Training Brings SportsDog Results To Special Needs In Michigan

GUTS stands for Ground Up Training System. But their website also claims, “and as you’ll quickly learn, GUTS also stands for results.”

Founded by brothers Paul and Todd Turner nearly three years ago, GUTS is a non-profit training program and center designed for everyone, but especially middle-school age kids. It is located in Ferndale, Michigan, just outside of Detroit.

The idea of Team GUTS came from both Paul and Todd. Their childhoods revolved around the sports calendar. The GUTS website boasts that “meals were planned around our sports schedule.”

For the past 13 years, the two brothers have extensive baseball resumes, both as coaches and volunteers for little leagues. They also helped start and currently organize the Titans Youth travel baseball team.

Todd’s daughter Amarissa, who recently celebrated her eighth birthday, was diagnosed with down syndrome and autism several years ago. Todd says that’s why they started GUTS three years ago.

“We realized corporate America is not the thing that we want to do. So, what do we enjoy doing? We enjoyed working with kids, so let’s open something for the kids,” Todd said. They decided to make special needs the focus.

“That was kind of the start of it. And then my daughter was kind of the push to say, ok, there’s nothing for these kids. So, our goal is to just get these kids moving and then hopefully when they’re older, it’s still something they’re doing,” he said.

Dr. Dale Ulrich of the University of Michigan serves on the GUTS advisory board. For over two decades, Dr. Ulrich has studied the positive effects of early physical activity of individuals with down syndrome.

According to the CDC, about 6,000 babies are born with down syndrome each year, which is about 1 in every 700 babies born. Autism prevalence has increased 10 fold over the last 40 years. Now, 1 in 68 American children are diagnosed with autism.
Children and adults with special needs are already at risk of decreased physical activity and fitness, but there still remains a lack of opportunities for them.

“They’re neglected,” Todd said. “There’s really nothing out there for these kids. Facilities are so hard to find. A lot of places are not really geared toward special needs. That doesn’t mean they’ll turn them away, but it’s definitely not their business model.”

Last year, GUTS opened up their own facilities after renting gym space for up to two years. The facility is the only one in Michigan that offers year-round fitness, sports, and training for special needs. People come from as far an hour away to get training and they’re even starting to get calls from Ohio.

“We offer several activities including martial arts, zumba, yoga, but then we also offer school programs like baseball, soccer, dance. We really want to offer a smorgasbord of activities to choose,” Todd said.

“Hopefully we get to the point of a second location, but we’re not in this for the money. If we wanted to be millionaires, we got into the wrong business,” he said.

“I think everybody knows somebody that has special needs- a family member, friend, acquaintance. We want everyone with special needs to have the same opportunities that everyone else has.”

LeagueApps was happy to donate to the GUTS Training cause for their SportsDog value of results. Click here to donate to watch Team GUTS video and donate to their cause.

Contact Todd Turner at todd@grounduptraining.com if you wish to be a sponsor or if you would like more information.

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