Team Maddy is a father/daughter triathlon team with an amazing story. Maddy is 13 and suffers from cerebral palsy. Her father, Rick Van Beek, never thought he would never be able to do anything with Maddy that he knew she would enjoy.
Rick and Maddy have competed in over 100 events and are still competing. I'll let Rick tell the full story, because he can tell it much better than I can.
"Triathlon…three different sports that stand between you and crossing the finish line. What more of a challenge could we ask for?
We get up in the morning and make sure that all our gear is in check. We double check that we have all the energy drinks and GU that we need. The tires are pumped and the chain is lubed. The body glide is packed with the wet suit, and the socks are tucked into our shoes. We are off to the races!
For my daughter it is different. Maddy is 13 years old and functions like a three month old. She cannot walk or talk or feed herself, she is totally dependent on us for support. Yet she Tri’s!
Before I saw her being pushed in a race, I never thought there would be anything that Maddy and I could do together, that I knew she enjoyed. That day, watching her being pushed in the Grand Rapids Marathon by two total strangers changed our lives forever.
I gave up two packs of cigarettes a day, and started to run, to do it with Maddy. It was a long road from smoking to running but Maddy got me through it.
It is funny sometimes how you get to the next level in your training, for me the years I spent doing nothing, that made running hurt, and that got me on a bike to cross train. Then a challenge from a friend said ‘your two thirds of the way there, why not swim’, so I did.
Every day since then I have dedicated to Tri’ing to make Maddy happy.
Although Maddy cannot speak we feel her in many different ways. For me, I hold her hands and look deep in her eyes and I feel her heart, it tells me what I am doing is what she wants. Without saying a word, Maddy has saved my life. Maddy is the reason I ‘tri’. She is my heart and determination, and I am her means to get there. TOGETHER, we make a great team.
People ask me why I do it. I simply answer, “For Maddy!” She deserves it!
Finding the one reason, the one thing that drives you to ‘tri’, that is what keeps you going.
I hope that everyone who ‘tri’s’ will find their own ‘Maddy’. I have and I carry Maddy’s heart in my hands, and bring it to the finish, and celebrate…HER!
Having a daughter with special needs has affected my life, but having a daughter who pushes me to ‘tri’…That has turned into a bond that will keep me “tri’ing” for her as long as I possibly can.
We go by the name “Team Maddy”, look for us at your next event. We are the ones with the biggest smiles on our faces. We may not ever finish first, but we sure do enjoy the journey."