I can’t really remember the first time I saw the video of Dick Hoyt doing a triathlon with his disabled son Rick. They have been racing as a tandem team literally longer than I have been alive. If you have never had the opportunity to watch these two in action, it’s worth your time. They have their own website with a video on the front page that will bring you to tears (assuming you have a soul). Although I can’t tell you the exact place and time, I can tell you that from the moment I saw the Hoyt’s in action, I wanted to be a part of something like that.
I’ve been doing triathlons for seven years now. Up until last fall, they were all solo efforts. Thanks to some help from Dennis, founder of Athlete’s In Tandem, I was able to do a Sprint Triathlon with a disabled athlete. You can read all about that experience here. It was an amazing experience and one that I knew I wanted to do again. However, there were some obstacles. The main one being the required equipment. Dennis had flown in from his home in Colorado and brought the raft and bike trailer with him. We borrowed a jogging stroller from someone here locally. He found a willing athlete for me to race with as well, but getting it all together was tough and didn’t leave us any time to practice with the disabled athlete. I knew that if I wanted to do more of these tandem races, I would have to figure out a way to do them without relying on Dennis to bring gear across the country.
Fast forward to early this year. I was having lunch with Todd and Chase from Headfirst Performance. I wanted to share with them my vision of starting a local chapter/division of Athlete’s In Tandem. I wanted to get their blessing to compete in their races with a disabled athlete. As expected, they were more than happy to not only allow me to race, but were eager to help. As we discussed the logistics of how it would all work, our conversation turned to how I would secure the raft, trailer and stroller. My original thought was to have Dennis assist me in securing the needed gear since he had been down this road before. But the more we talked, the more I thought that maybe I could do all of this on my own.
As fate would have it, that next month I attended my first Vistage meeting. Vistage is a peer-to-peer membership organization for CEO’s, business owners and executives in small to medium sized businesses. Although we mostly discuss business related issues in these meetings, we have some time carved out to talk about any personal matters that we would like to share with the group. In this first meeting, I mentioned my goal of finding a way to acquire the needed equipment to do races in tandem without having to rely on someone else. I shared my dream, but also let them know that I was still trying to find a way to make it happen. My research told me that it would cost about $2,000 to get the required equipment. That’s a lot of coin to try and come up with.
To my surprise, at our next meeting – a month later, I was approached with a solution. The Chair of our group had mentioned my endeavor to some of his associates and they were interested in donating the full $2,000!! I couldn’t believe that it was going to come together! The only issue was finding a way for them to donate the money so that they could get a tax break on the gift. I didn’t plan on starting my own 501(c) organization, so I needed to find an existing one that would be willing to help.
The answer was easy….The Kids Center. I’ve been involved with The Kids Center for several years now. I fell in love with the organization from the first time I stepped foot in the place and I have enjoyed helping them raise money in several different ways over the years. I had already planned on asking them to help me find an athlete to race with, but having them help me secure the donation would be a tremendous step! I talked with one of my friends that works there and he agreed to approach the Executive Director with my idea. A few weeks later, I had the green light! The donors could write a check to The Kids Center and then they could purchase the equipment for me to use.
Once the funds were secured, I worked Deidra at The Kids Center to purchase the exact raft, bike trailer and jogging stroller that I would need. They shipped quickly and arrived within a week or two. Now it was time to find some kids that were interested in racing with me. I was able to get a few minutes to speak at the beginning of a staff meeting at The Kids Center. So I had a room full of the people that knew the kids that came there better than anyone. These were the Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists and Speech-Language Pathologists that worked with these special needs kids every day. Once I told them what I wanted to do, they were all more than happy to help.
Since that meeting, they have put me in contact with several families that are interested in having their children be part of a race in tandem! We are scheduled to race the Olympic Distance race as part of the Louisville Landsharks Triathlon at Taylorsville State Park on Sunday, July 26th.
Part of my vision was to not only give these disabled children the chance to swim, bike and run in a race, but to also raise awareness for The Kids Center and all that they do here locally. So I’ve set up a website to collect donations leading up to the race. Since I’ve secured the equipment, all of the money donated will go directly to providing therapy to local children that suffer from Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida and many other sensory and speech disorders. They never turn away a family, regardless of their financial situation or insurance coverage. So please take a minute to think about how blessed you and your family are and consider donating. Just click on the link below:
Click here ——>>>>> Kids Center Tandem Athlete Donation Page <<<<<——-Click here
As a little incentive to get some more donations, I’m giving away a supplement package from Garden of Life. These are very high quality supplements and the same one’s that I take. This package consists of a two-month supply of Digestive Enzymes, Wobenzym N (a natural way to lower inflammation), Omega-3, Vitamin D3, Vitamin B-12 and a Complete Men’s Multivitamin. This is over $160 worth of supplements that I’m giving away to someone that is generous enough to give at least $10 through my donation site above AND shares this blog post on either Facebook or Twitter.
The day after the race, Monday, July 27th, I will draw and winner. I hope that I can not only help one of my favorite non-profit organizations, but also encourage other athletes to consider racing in tandem with a disabled athlete. Now that I have all of the equipment, I would love to help others have the same experience that I’ve had.
Please donate, share this post with your family and friends, come to the race and get motivated to do one yourself!
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