Julia and Pascal Gouteix competed in their first paired triathlon this weekend, and it was such an amazing experience. The journey this has taken Pascal on has been such a pleasure and an honor to witness up close.
As some of you may know, we first became connected to The Kyle Pease Foundation through The Bert Show as part of a Father’s Day surprise for Pascal. In conjunction with Fragile Kids Foundation, they provided him with a raft to pull Julia along on the swim, a bike trailer and extra supportive seating to keep Julia comfortable during the race. Pascal has always been active, and had completed several triathlons prior to Julia’s arrival and this became a great opportunity for them to find something fun to do together.
The equipment provided was the catalyst for Pascal to make this dream a reality, but the connections we've made as a result have been priceless. It's so hard to feel connected when you're a parent of a child with a disability, especially when connection often means being stuck in some dreary support group that can leave you feeling hopeless. I hate to generalize, but this seems especially true for fathers.
Since the show aired, Pascal has received so much support from a technical standpoint from Brent Pease at foundation, but also from an emotional standpoint as well. We've been put in touch with amazing families that are living parallel journeys to ours, and words really can't describe how good it feels to have those connections. As parents of a three-year-old with cerebral palsy, meeting athletes like Kyle, Marin Smith, Justin Knight and Kevin Enners give us so much hope for the future. Their parents and siblings aren’t too shabby either.
It's difficult to say that you won't let your family be defined in any way, shape, or form by the disability of your child, because it truly shakes your world in ways that you can't imagine. But I do believe that you can choose to be defined by your response to it. Our hope is that people can see that having a child with a disability is not a tragedy, it's not a burden. As corny and contrived as it may sound-it's a blessing in so many unexpected ways. We are so lucky to have found this amazing, supportive group of athletic families and we look forward to many, many more races in the near future!