Posted by Coach Dustin
This weekend I helped out with CAF's Dodge Paratriathlon Camp that was put on by the Challenged Athlete's Foundation (CAF) and hosted by our TeamMPI coaches Peter Harsch, John Murray and Mark Sortino at the Portofino Resort Island Resort on Pensacola Beach. I'd been looking forward to this camp ever since helping out with the same camp last year because it's an experience like none other. I spent the weekend surrounded by some amazingly inspiring people.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the term parathlete, they are athletes that have some sort of physical disability. We had 12 athletes along with 3 paratriathlete mentors come from all over the country who had injuries ranging from missing limbs to the debilitating disease of multiple sclerosis. There were a few athletes who were older, but most were early to mid 20's, with the youngest being a freshman in high school. It was so inspiring to hear the stories of their injuries and to see what they had overcome.
We had several men from the military who had lost a leg while serving their country, and one who had even lost both. A couple of the athletes had battled cancer and had their limb amputated to save their life and one athlete lost his leg as a result of a careless nurse that took care of him when he was born.
Now, you may be tempted to feel sorry for these people, but that is the last thing they would want, and they certainly aren't sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. These athletes were some of the funniest, most positive, and hopeful people that you'll encounter. They were so laid back and often making jokes and wisecracks about their missing limbs. Their positive outlook on life was unbelievable. I can't imagine how incredibly difficult it would be to go through some of the trauma and hardships that they have been through, yet they all seemed to have the attitude of "this is the lot that was given to me and I'm going to make the most of it."
I was so motivated as I saw many of them, who hadn't ridden a bike in years, if ever, or had never swam in open water before finish up the camp by completing a super-sprint triathlon. The athletes spent the weekend going through various swim, bike, and run training sessions and sitting through several lectures and then their final test was the race that they did on the last day of the camp. Everyone finished with a smile on their face and after spending the weekend with these incredible people, I have been given a new perspective on life. If you'd like to learn more about the Challenged Athlete Foundation and TeamMPI, go to www.TeamMPI.com and click "paratriathlon".
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