On Saturday, August 3rd, Number 5, 6, and 7 competed in a triathlon.
But it wasn’t just any triathlon.
It was the Race4Chase Triathlon.
Chase Kowalski was a triathlete.
He was also one of the victims in the Sandy Hook Tragedy.
And out of that tragedy, the Chase Michael-Anthony Kowalski Foundation was born.
The CMAK Foundation was started by Chase Kowalski’s family.
Here is what it’s about, straight from their website:
The Kowalski family wanted to capture Chase’s competitive spirit and vitality in creating a charity in his honor with a focus on health and wellness for children and their families. CMAK (Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski) Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation has pursued programs and initiatives that encourage personal improvement, healthy lifestyles and strong family and communities.
One of the programs funded by the CMAK foundation is the Race4Chase.
Race4Chase is a six week triathlon camp for kids ages 6 – 12.
It focuses on developing a healthy lifestyle, teaches kids how to swim, bike, run and compete in the sport of triathlon, and it inspires not only children, but everyone from participants to parents to coaches to volunteers.
And Number 5, 6 and 7 were very fortunate to be a part of this program.
For six weeks, Number 5, 6 and 7 attended Race4Chase camp.
They LOVED it.
The swam, they biked, they ran.
They made new friends.
The pushed themselves and they learned they are stronger and more capable than they thought they were.
At the culmination of the Race4Chase camp, there is a USAT sanctioned kids’ triathlon.
Number 5, 6 and 7 competed in it.
And it was one of the most amazing things I have ever witnessed and been a part of.
There were 15 different YMCA’s that participated in this year’s Race4Chase program, and all of them were at the triathlon.
Over 500 kids.
To kick off the morning, Chase’s mom tells everyone about Chase. About what he was like and what he loved and why and how the Race4Chase was born.
It’s super emotional and words really can’t describe it.
And then the race begins.
Kids are go off in waves of 10.
The 7 and under kids go first, then the 8-10 years-olds, and then the 11 and 12-year-olds.
I wish I could accurately describe the atmosphere as the kids run from the swim to the bike.
But I can’t.
You’d have to be there to really understand.
What I can say is it’s the most supportive, exciting, loud, inspirational and amazing things I’ve witnessed in my life.
And I’ve run the Boston Marathon and the New York City Marathon and done the New York City Triathlon.
So I’ve been a part of some pretty exciting stuff.
The level of support, the cheering, the coaches running alongside the kids —
It was unbelievable.
Here’s Number 7 in action.
This was a mindset-altering experience for all three of my kids.
Number 7 had set a goal to win her age group.
She’s always been determined, but this was a whole different level for her.
Number 5 learned she is much tougher than she thought.
Number 6 realized is a pretty good little athlete and capable of much more than he thought.
My kids learned not only to push themselves, but how to be teammates and leaders and to support other people.
They made new friends, had fun with old friends, and worked with amazing coaches and role models.
It was really the best thing they have ever been a part of.
As icing on the cake, Number 5 was the female recipient of the Sportsmanship award for our team.
And Number 7?
Well, when she sets her mind to something she makes it happen.
She made it to the top of the podium.
I’m proud of all my kids.
But more importantly, I am so grateful they were able to be a part of this program.
It was truly — for lack of a better word — amazing.
And I really hope we all get to be a part of it again.