My name is Claire and I have been in a wheelchair since I was 1 year old. Last year, I had the privilege of being in the first Tri My Best triathlon in Greenville. For a little background, I have a disability called Spinal Muscular Atrophy that causes my muscles to get progressively weaker over time. This is the reason I have been in a wheelchair for so long. I do physical and occupational therapy with Therapy360, one of the organizations running Tri My Best, and I do aquatic therapy at the Kroc Center.
Being in a wheelchair, I don’t get very many opportunities to participate in things like this. That’s partly because my needs are very different from many people. For example, I’m not able to stay above the water if I am not touching the bottom of the pool. For the swim portion of the triathlon, I was not touching the bottom of the pool, so I used my noodle chair. My noodle chair is exactly what it sounds like. It is simply a pool noodle with a mesh seat around it that creates a chair. With the noodle chair, I am able to stay above water.
My bike is also different from a regular bike. While the seat is the same, most of it is very different. In fact, it’s actually a tricycle, not a bicycle. It has a backrest, as well as straps on the pedals. There is a seatbelt and lots of other straps to keep me safe and secure. I don’t have enough strength to be able to push the bike all by myself, so there is a way to push it from the back.
All I have to do for the run is turn on my wheelchair and go!
My favorite part of the triathlon was biking. I absolutely loved the bike because it was such a challenge, yet so enjoyable. I had not been on one for about five years. The fact that I was able to ride the bike made me so proud. When I got off, I was ecstatic. After I crossed the finish line, I was overjoyed. I had just finished a triathlon!
Being able to participate last year was such a privilege. I have never done anything like it before. This triathlon means so much more for the athletes than anyone could ever imagine. For us, it’s more than a triathlon, it’s pure joy. I absolutely cannot wait until the second triathlon in May!
Tri My Best returns May 21
It takes an enormous amount of time, commitment, hard work, and community support to create a day that means the world to its participants, but that’s what Melissa Seward and Alison McComb, through their nonprofit organization, Platypus Adventures, spearheaded last August with Greenville’s inaugural Tri My Best triathlon.
The event returns May 21 with Shriners Children’s Greenville as the presenting sponsor. It is hosted by The Kroc Center, along with the Just Tri It Youth Triathlon and the Couch to Tri adult event.
“Tri My Best is an adaptive triathlon, a swim, bike run race for kids with disabilities,” Seward said. “What we do is we provide buddies and support to make sure it is a successful event for everyone.”
Volunteer needs are full, but the community is invited to come out, line the race course, and cheer on participants.
Learn more at facebook.com/trimy.best and facebook.com/PlatypusAdventuresGVL.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Claire Worthy shares experience from the first Tri My Best triathlon