2018 grand marshals prove they’re better together

Two is better than one. That can be true in many basic ways, but when the two people complement each other like Abby Abel and Mitch Bonar, the saying lives beyond its meaning. Ever since they met through their high school’s Unified Track and Field program, the duo has proved they are better together and have the power to enact more social change than they ever could, alone.

“Abby Abel and Mitch Bonar are true catalysts for social change,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO 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.”

Leading different lives, Abby and Mitch’s inherent love for sports brought them together; they connected and competed, but it didn’t stop there. They are now competing in front of a much larger audience and with an overarching goal in mind – to eliminate the stigma and perception against people with intellectual disabilities. Through Unified Sports with Champions Together, a partnership between Special Olympics Indiana and the IHSAA (Indiana High School Athletic Association), the pair of athletes have the platform to use their friendship as a means to create change.

Together, Abby and Mitch are pioneers in breaking barriers and minimizing stigmas that hinder relationships. As leaders of their generation, the innovative pair will play an integral role in illuminating Indianapolis as Grand Marshals for the 2018 IPL 500 Festival Parade.


The 500 Festival – with the help of IPL, the IHSAA, Special Olympics Indiana and Purdue University – surprised Mitch and Abby with the Grand Marshal announcement on April 15 at Purdue’s Play Unified Basketball Tournament, a tournament Abby organizes. The duo is aware of the impact they’ve made around the state of Indiana, but they were not aware of the surprise or impending invitation to the 500 Festival’s grandest stage.

We were thrilled to surprise them with this great honor and we can’t wait to celebrate their friendship on race weekend.


Tickets are still available! Join us to celebrate Mitch, Abby, and the entire lineup of the 2018 IPL 500 Festival Parade on May 26!

Parade Tickets