Boy, 12, with lung condition trains for 8th triathlon event

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A triathlon is an especially grueling event; it involves swimming, running and biking.

It's challenging for the healthiest of athletes. But imagine competing with an often-crippling breathing condition.

Colin Walsh, 12, is training hard for his eighth triathlon. He swims, bikes and runs in the event - and he does it all very, very well.

"The last triathlon I did I came in seventh overall," Walsh said.

The young man from Naperville is being a little modest. What makes it really remarkable is that Walsh is dealing with cystic fibrosis, or CF - a cell function defect which affects his lung capacity.

"They told us when Colin was a baby that exercise is really an important part, so we were happy when he liked swimming. Swimming is great for your lungs," said Trisha Walsh, Colin's mother.

Colin initially got the idea for triathlon from his uncle, Bryan, who often carried the boys on his shoulders as he crossed the finish line in the event. Because of that inspiration, Colin is now a regular in the Lifetime Kids Tri Chicago - despite his rigorous medical routine.

"Daily breathing treatments when he's healthy. He has to do nebulized medicines to help the secretions and he does chest therapy and he takes several pills just to maintain every day," Trisha said.

The athletic events have made a big difference in Colin's quality of life, according his first CF triathlon coach.

"Colin has found a passion in the sport of triathlon and through his perseverance and his enjoyment of swimming, which he loves, he has developed his lung capacity beyond what his perfectly healthy friends already have," said Scott "Hootie" Hutmacher, Lifetime Athletic Events.

And as he gets ready for the next competition, Trisha's concern is always apparent.

"I ask him all the time about how does the CF affect it. He says 'I just want to win. I just want to do good.' He wants to be like everybody else," she said.

Meanwhile, this young athlete says his goal is simple.

"I just want to complete them and have fun," he said.

The Walsh family is very active with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in their fundraising efforts. The Lifetime Kids Triathlon is Saturday, Aug. 29 at Foster Beach.

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