Lucas, our autistic teenage son, was never a stranger to the world of triathlons. He was well aware of what they entailed since it was something he knew Mom did. So when we pitched him the idea of participating in one himself, he was up for the challenge!
And a big challenge it would be – three different sports, transitions, the anticipation, all of the eyes watching, cheering and waiting. It’s a lot to process for anyone.
To top things off, at this time Lucas didn’t know how to ride a bike, wasn’t able to sustain running for more than just a few strides and had just started swim lessons.
We knew it wouldn’t be easy; but we also knew that with the right resources, support and mindset he could do anything! So that’s what we did. We recruited the help of others who also believed in Lucas.
Thankfully we had the full support of Lucas’s swim Coach, Justin Gainer. He was completely on board and had full confidence in Lucas and his ability to be able to complete the swim portion of the race. Not only did he teach Lucas how to swim, but he ran alongside Lucas as his guide on race day! Surround yourself with people who believe in you and you can accomplish anything, right?! We think so.
We had personally been trying to teach Lucas how to ride his bike for years with not much luck. So we did some research and enrolled in the I CAN SHINE, an organization committed to helping individuals with disabilities bike, swim, dance, and more.
Within just two weeks, Lucas was riding his bike independently without our help! We couldn’t believe it! We presumed he could do it and believed he would do it eventually, but watching him ride his bike with an expression of absolute joy and pride was magical…it truly lit us up!
This part took a little longer, as it was something we worked on together as a family. And as most parents know, sometimes children are much more responsive to outsiders such as teachers, coaches, trainers, etc. than they are with Mom & Dad. 🙂
Well fast forward one year later and there we were…at our first kid’s triathlon with all of the neurotypical athletes. We were so nervous and excited for him. He was excited, anxious, and distracted! All eyes were on him to start and that alone was not easy to overcome. He hesitated… a lot. And at some point, we even wondered whether or not he would even do it. But he did.
He swam, he rode, he ran…HE DID IT! And at the very end of it all as we were packing up to leave, out of nowhere, he said to himself, “I Can Do Anything.”
That phrase will forever be ingrained in our minds as something we want to continually remind Lucas, ourselves and all of our athletes and families of Inclusive Fitness.
I Can Do Anything. You Can Do Anything. We Can Do Anything Together.