Program helps 'all kids' train for triathlon

August 27, 2009 10:24:04 AM PDT
This Saturday is the 19th annual McDonald's KidsTriathlon. It's the largest event of its kind. Boys and girls 7-to-14-years-old will be competing in three sports, swimming, biking and running. Some of the children have disabilities. Thanks to a unique training program, they are able to fully participate in the event.

Prior to competing in the triathlon, children need to train. Ten years ago, Maria Elipas started "All Kids Can." it's a program that has prepared hundreds of children with and without disabilities .

For young children, the triathlon is a great way to keep them active and involved. Some of the children with disabilities need training modification, says Maria Elipas.

"For several years we've had a little boy who was a congenital amputee, which means he was born without hands and he only had half of his feet," said Maria. "So we had to figure out a way to get him to swim, because when he started to swim he was just going in circles. We had to teach him to use his forearms to pull and also to handle the bike with no hands."

"We had a blind boy, and we had a guide for him, and he was really good. He was pretty fast," Maria said.

This year, one of the children in the program, Gisel Solis, has type-1 diabetes. She is 9 years old.

"Gisel joined us last year, and she was very good about checking her sugar," said Elipas.

"I have to test myself before events sometimes, and I have to get a bit more attention than some of the other kids because of my medical issue," Gisel said.

Her mom Gloria says this program has helped Gisel stay healthy.

"The training has helped her by actually overall training by keeping her body healthy. By being more active she has to eat healthier," Gloria said.

Maria believes that kids with disabilities can do anything they want.

"That takes are little bit of an effort, but it gives them the opportunity to do multiple sports, so I think it's a great opportunity for all kids," Maria said.

"At 'All Kids,' they are very accommodating, and it's like, once you find something that they like doing there's no stopping them," Gloria said.

"When I grow up I want to be a swimmer," Gisel said.

The kids' triathlon takes place the morning of Saturday, August 29, at Foster Avenue Beach. For more information go to www.allkidscantri.com and www.chicagotriathlon.com.


Load Comments