Sep 02, 2013 Joe Genco Uncategorized
There were plenty of spectators on hand for the ninth annual Skinnyman triathlon held in Skaneateles on Saturday, but this year they had something out of the ordinary to cheer for.
Identical twins Jack and Nolan Willis of Fayetteville and Shane Lauer, of Phoenix, Md., who are all affected by Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, competed and completed the race.
This was made possible with help from a team of volunteers and special accommodations through the charitable organization Athletes Serving Athletes which helps disabled youth compete in running and triathlon events.
“It gives the kids a chance to get out and do something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do instead of just sitting at home playing X-Box or watching TV,” Matt Willis, the twins’ father said.
The three boys were assisted through the course with help from volunteers and special equipment provided by Athletes Serving Athletes. They were towed through the swim portion on small boats ahead of the rest of the competitors. For the cycling portion they were able to sit on a special seat mounted to the handlebars of a bike and for the running portion they were pushed in specially designed “strollers.”
“It was cool to see everybody that was here, I felt like I was a part of the race,” Jack said.
The boys were met with applause and support from the crowd everywhere they went. At the end of the triathlon, a group of about 30 runners had gathered behind them, which had not been planned ahead of time, to support them and finish together.
“They were saying ‘good job’ and clapping for us up until the end,” Jack said.
The Willis family also runs Two Smiles One Hope, a locally-based foundation that raises money for Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy awareness and research. The foundation’s biggest fundraiser of the year the Cazenovia Hillbender Cycling Festival, a bike race/ride, will be held Sunday, Sept. 15 in Chittenango Falls State Park.
The Two Smiles foundation website describes the disease as having no cure: “Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy or DMD, as it is commonly referred to, is a fatal genetic disorder and to date remains the number one genetic killer of children worldwide. Children born with the disease, almost all boys due to the disorder attaching itself to the X chromosome, are unable to properly manufacture the Dystrophin Protein.”
After having a positive experience at the Skinnyman, the Willis twins are hoping to compete in the Boston Marathon next year again with the help of Athletes serving Athletes.
The Skinnyman is a sprint triathlon, consisting of an 800-yard swim in Skaneateles Lake, 11-mile bike on the west side of the lake and a 3-mile run on the east side of the lake. More than 500 people competed in the event, 83 of whom also competed in the “I’m All That,” challenge a competition including four SkanRaces events over the course of the weekend.
This year’s overall winner was Matthew Migonis, of Hamilton, N.Y., who finished in 56:34. The top female finisher was Mae Lankes, of Skaneateles, who finished in 1:07:24.
The winner of the co-ed relay class, in which three people compete each completing a different leg of the course, was Red Ram Triathlon, a team of three students and athletes from Jamesville-Dewitt High School. The team, Ben Katsarsky (swim), Will Cote (bike) and Rachel Fairbanks (run), said they entered the race at the suggestion of Cote’s father but didn’t have any expectation on how they would do.
The members of the team said that the race came with different set of challenges than what they were used to while running track or swimming in high school.
“The swim was really different for, me you have to know how to pass people, and you have to look up a lot fo the buoys and to know where to turn,” Katsarsky said.
Though the events took place at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, some Skaneateles residents came out to cheer on the racers, even if they didn’t know anyone competing personally.
Since their induction, the races have become a staple of the Labor Day weekend celebrations, John Vincent, of Skaneateles, said.
“It’s a great weekend, even if you stayed up late Friday night, you’ve got to be here for this,” Vincent said.
Joe Genco is the editor of the Skaneateles Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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