William (10 yrs. old) and his brother Aidan (8 yrs. old) both placed 1st place for their age groups on Aug. 8 at the City by the Lake Kids Triathlon in Michigan City, Ind.
Both brothers attend Palos West Elementary School, in Palos Park. This summer was the first time they have attempted to try out the kid triathlon scene. They competed in many this summer, and both have quite a collection of medals from this summer’s competitions.
Aidan, also has secured a spot to compete in the HyVee Championships in Des Moines, Iowa, later this month. However, this particular triathlon, in which they both placed first, was most meaningful, because for the first time in a long time, William believed in himself.
The past two years have been very trying for William as he has struggled to understand and accept his Crohn’s disease. Earlier this summer the family attended a 5K walk-a-thon that was featured in The Regional to raise awareness for Connor’s Courageous Crew in Palos Heights. William was so inspired that he ran the entire 5K. This was shocking to his family who were there to support him, because William is not the type of kid who runs … ever. He is more of a laid back, Lego playing, rock enthusiast, bookworm, the kind of kid other kids pick on for being different. The kind of kid, that when he told his baseball teammates that he had ran a 5K and completed a triathlon, many of them mocked him and called him a liar.
Thanks to the Mish family, I was able also to learn about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), which also runs a summer camp called Camp Oasis for kids struggling with these diseases. William has been at Camp Oasis in Elkhorn, Wis. I cannot even begin to describe how excruciating this week has been without my child. A week of no contact for me, but a week knowing that he is surrounded by other children who understand his pains and share similar feelings…. a safe haven. I am hoping that this summer packed with the amazing accomplishments of completing many triathlons and attending camp (alone from home for the first time ever) also empowers him to know he is as strong and capable of doing “athletic things,” as he is wickedly smart and funny.