“The great challenge of adulthood is holding on to your idealism after you lose your innocence” Bruce Springsteen
My son, Louie, is in the final weeks of training with his guide Milan for the 2018 Louisville Ironman. The Ironman is a grueling single day 140.6 mile competition of swimming, biking and running. Louie just turned 18 years old – the minimum age to compete. And Louie is blind. A year ago when he approached my wife and I about doing this, we initially said no. Didn’t he know that it would be costly in both time and money? What about school and friends? Didn’t he realize this was going to be really hard?
By this past spring, Louie had enlisted the help of a guide. He found an awesome guy nearby named Milan who had competed in 10 Ironman competitions and was looking for his next challenge. Milan had never competed with a blind person and had never even ridden a tandem bike. This was the first challenge for Louie – finding a guide willing to give up a ton of time to help him achieve his goal. The second challenge was cost. Louie estimated that he would need around $6,000 to cover the costs for both he and Milan to train, enter and travel to Kentucky. Finally, there was the time. Training for the Ironman takes a ton of time and since he can’t drive, that also means rides to and from training sessions. Training 4 to 5 times per week means Louie’s time, a guide’s time, and our family’s time to drive him back and forth. Louie checked the boxes and here we are – his possibility is now becoming reality.
There is not a lot of independence when you’re blind. You rely on help to do most things. That’s no different for Louie in reaching his Ironman goal. However, Louie has a strong and independent spirit. He is always thinking of new adventures and ways to make them happen. Louie has a phrase he constantly says “I’ll figure it out” and he always does. When something seems out of reach, he always thinks of a way to get it done. Maybe true independence is in the ability to single-handedly figure things out – not simply in doing things all by yourself.
The Ironman is just a couple of weeks away now. Louie has connected with all the right people, figured out all the right gear, signed up and managed to train. Sure others helped make it all happen, but it was his idea, his planning and his drive that we all got behind to see this through.
The other day Louie reminded me that he isn’t doing this for himself. He’s doing this to inspire other kids with blindness to find their own adventure and get the most out of life.
ADULTHOOD. IDEALISM. INNOCENCE.