Mikey Stoczanskyj wore his medal proudly while surrounded by friends and family after finishing his third triathlon in as many years.
Mikey, 11, of Pleasant Prairie, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but the third annual “Tri My Best” Triathlon — a swim, run and bike, event held again this year at the Kenosha YMCA on Sunday — gave him an opportunity to stay physically active and has helped him set goals to improve.
“I trained as hard as I could,” he said, adding he enjoyed the biking better than swimming this year.
However, where he made the most improvement was walking, according his physical therapist Sarah Lambie, whose father also co-sponsored the event.
“Mikey walked farther this year than he did last year. Last year, we had to kind to make a little short cut. But this year, he did the entire course as it was designed,” she said.
Lambie has assisted Mikey for the last three years, including following SDR surgery, a major operation to help improve muscle stiffness in individuals with cerebral palsy.
“Mikey before — when he was to stand or crawl — had a lot of spasticity in his legs and what it does is eliminate the spasticity from his legs,” she said. “Without that tone in his muscles he has to work on strengthening from ground zero and back up.”
Mikey had to learn how to crawl, stand and walk, retraining his muscles following the surgery, she said.
For the running or walking portion of the race, he used special braces and a walker.
That, he said, helped him to walk farther this year.
“Oh yeah,” he said, a little tired, but happy.
Robin Stoczanskyj, Mikey’s mother, said her son has been participating in the inclusive triathlon since its inception. She and other parents said they appreciate having an event that includes children with special physical and developmental needs.
“I think it’s amazing to watch all our kids feel so accomplished that they’ve been able to cross the finish line, whether they’re in a wheelchair or if they can run,” Stoczanskyj said. “They do a great job of putting this whole event together.”
Over 100 participants
This year’s swim/bike/run event attracted 110 participants, up from 82 last year, according to race director Emily Kron of Tender Touch Therapy.
The event was held for children age 5 and older and young adults with developmental disabilities, which include autism, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy among others. Youth of all abilities were welcome to participate.
The event also featured four added training sessions to help the athletes prepare for the “big day,” she said.
At the event, some used adapted bikes, walkers, power wheelchairs and other assistive devices and all athletes were paired with volunteers who cheered them on as well as to make sure they had a fun and safe time.
Participants started heats every 15 minutes with four different course ability levels, she said.
“It’s very unique to each child. We customized everything to each of the 110 athletes,” she said.
First time participant Charlie Hensley, 7, munched on Jelly Belly jelly beans, especially the bubble gum flavored ones. He admitted that he had the best time in the biking heat, but that the hardest part was running.
His mother, Rita, said they enjoyed being a part of the event that “makes him feel like a winner.” Charlie attends Somers Elementary.
All participants receive a medal, a certificate, a shirt and a bag of goodies for their accomplishments.
Hensley said her son, who has a cognative delay and attention deficit disorder, worked hard with his therapists at Tender Touch to prepare for race.
For his part, Charlie said his favorite part was the medal he received.
Gienna Jarvis, 12, who attends Lance Middle School, said she enjoyed swimming this year and being around all of her friends. Her mother, Unified Superintendent Sue Savaglio- Jarvis, said her daughter has been participating in the event since last year.
“It’s worth all the hugs and smiles she gets,” Savaglio-Jarvis said. “Her favorite part.”