So here is what Randy & I submitted, to nominate Dad for the Chris Beer Award, at the “Champions Challenge”, and what Randy used for his speech at the dinner:
The whole story can be found in myriad photos, blog posts, Facebook events, etc. The first photo that comes to mind is from 2008, of Dad with his son and grandson, who had done the Meech Lake Triathlon as a relay with him—his very first time, at 73, to do any race. We drove our Facebook friends crazy, being over-the-top proud.
The next year he did the “Try-a-Tri” in September, and the memorable photos are of his kids, grandkids and great grandkids surprising him by joining him over the finish line. Of course he was hooked, and each year he has been doing the Champion’s Challenge, involving at least three triathlons over the season.
So many photos! There’s one of Dad wearing a funny “No Passing” sign on his back, and one of him pointing his finger as if to say “YOU can do it too!” There are a few of him stopping before the finish to greet his cheerleaders, especially the little ones who ran up to him for a hug and kiss. From the beginning, he has been totally thrilled to hear of others being inspired by his stamina.
On his wall behind his lazy boy, he proudly hangs dozens of 1st place banners, each with their own story of hard work and training, such as the year he had a knee replaced in the winter but decided to sign up for the early bird anyway to help motivate his recovery. Interestingly enough, in all these years racing I don’t think once there has been another participant in his division. Even dad might question what is a First if you are the only competitor. But when you stop and think about it, he showed up at the start line and finished every time. Dad will always be first place to his family.
It takes a special kind of person to train all winter and summer for 3 races each year at his age! Like any triathlete he is a competitive guy, always wanting to be a little faster, and try not to finish last. He challenges anyone to not let him catch them. Over the years he and his bright red/green race shirt have made a lot of friends on the course. I love hearing them, “wow did you see that… that guy is 80!!” Or they cheer him on. For dad though, it’s never been about winning. It’s about encouraging his family. Often he will say “if I can do it you can do it”. We have seen him inspire even mom to start swimming in her 70’s, right down to inspiring so many family members to race this past summer. For him that has made it all worth it.
And if you’ve ever watched him race, you know it’s not easy for him. You can feel his agony, along with the great relief when it’s finally all over. Just ask his “favourite cheerleader”, with whom he celebrated his 60th year of marriage, this past August. Then, each year after the May triathlon, he goes home and barbecues for all his beloved cheerleaders!
Dad has always had a desire to see people be active and healthy, and for several years he had us run a “100 Day Family Challenge” at the beginning of the year, to get everyone to exercise, in any way that was best for them. This year he turned 80, and how could we refuse his request for as much family as possible, to join him at the Early Bird Triathlon in May? Altogether, he inspired three relay teams, and three other individuals to sign up, including his sister, some nieces, his kids, grandkids, and even one of his great-grandsons! Whoever couldn’t actually race, was there to cheer us on!
Dad has always been so thrilled to have his family come out and cheer him on, but I know that having them actually participate this year, was worth more to him then ANY Gold! And that says a whole lot about who he is, and why he inspires us.
Randy may say he just did some “tweaking”, but he also did two large paragraphs. I think we worked well as a team! Of course, it was great “subject matter”… :D