On Sunday, Rick van Beek from Byron Center, Michigan, completed a triathlon, carrying his 13-year-old daughter Madison, who has Cerebral Palsy.
The two completed a 0.3-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run, with Maddy in her dad’s arms as they transitioned from section to section.
van Beek finished the Sanford and Sun sprint triathlon because his daughter, Madison loves being outdoors. van Beek, being a devoted father wanted to ensure that Madison could experience the event because he knows that she enjoys them and that they’re something that she would not have been able to do without him. She cannot speak or hear and her father is unsure if she can see. van Beek told the Midland Daily News:
She functions like a 3-month-old, and one of the very few things that we know she enjoys is being outside, being in the water, feeling the breeze in her hair and in her face
van Beek begun training for outdoor races in 2008. He was out of shape and a heavy smoker. For the past four years, van Beek has been competing under the name Team Maddy, “I run for and with my daughter.”
Team Maddy has participated in more than 70 events together. van Beek wrote on his blog that:
The emotion I feel for Maddy] drives me or inspires me to do the things that I do. Call it inspiration, call it motivation, call it what ever you want, I call it LOVE.
That will never fade…She is my heart and I am her legs, though someday she might not physically be able to be there with me, she will always be in my heart, quietly cheering me on.