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inclusion

If You Think 2018 Was Incredible... Just Wait!

Even though we are two weeks in, it is not too late to wish a Happy New Year to all of you. We enter the new year with one very difficult to answer question in mind. How do we possibly build upon 2018 and make 2019 even more unforgettable?

It would be so easy to look behind us in the rear view mirror and get stuck traveling down Memory Lane. It’s difficult not to get lost in the many highlights that made 2018 on for the ages. From Publix to Peachtree. From another successful Camp Wheel Away to an extremely successful bowling fundraiser. From The Marine Corps Marathon in our nation’s capitol to a very unforgettable journey down Alii Drive in Kona, 2018 will be a difficult one to top. All of these spectacular moments will help to drive us towards our next big goal of making 2019 the best year ever for the Kyle Pease Foundation.

I bet you are wondering how we could ever top the year that was. My answer is by bringing awareness and inclusion to all of our athletes and to allow them the best experience possible at every race they participate in. By creating opportunities outside of the race course and by bringing awareness to the passion in their lives. It’s our commitment to partner with other resources and to gain exposure in a positive light for the athletes of Kyle Pease Foundation.

2019 is going to be a year full of surprises. We are extremely excited to unveil new book scheduled for release in the spring. Pre-orders will begin in the coming weeks, but that’s all I'm going to share with you for now. We are looking forward to our first race of the year just over the horizon. Because as the weather gets warmer, KPF gets hotter.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and we will respond in our next blog. 

Until then,

Kyle!

KPF's J-Dude and Matt Booth Will "Never Give Up" During Ironman Wisconsin 140.6

KPF's J-Dude and Matt Booth Will "Never Give Up" During Ironman Wisconsin 140.6

While Kyle and Brent are busily preparing for the land of volcanoes and hula girls in Kona Hawaii, another team representing the Kyle Pease Foundation is training to cruise 140.6 miles through the land of Cheeseheads and Packer fans at Ironman Wisconsin. Justin "J-dude" Knight and Matt Booth will be heading to the great Midwest to compete in Madison, WI on September 9th. 

Matt will be completing the 2.1 mile swim with J-Dude and will be followed up by Micah Cotton, who will be completing the 112 mile bike ride and Fred Soller who will be accompanying J-dude on the 26.2 mile marathon. The quartet will need to complete the 140.6 mile event in under 17 hours (the cutoff time)  and barring a mechanical failure, should have no issue completing in that time period. 

Though not a triathlete myself, I was able to remotely "catch up" to J-dude, Matt and J-Dude's mama, Teresa, to ask about their training and preparation for the event before they head out to America's Dairyland.

Todd Civin TC: The race is Ironman Wisconsin 140.6, where Brent and Kyle really faced some challenges, why do you think you can complete this?

Matt Booth MB: We have three people as opposed to one, that's the biggest difference. Also, J-Dude likes to go fast, so we put together a team that can move quickly so he gets even more enjoyment out of the competition. 

J-Dude:  Because Brent and Kyle have shown me how to do Ironman.  The bike is the hardest.  A lot of things help me to do it.  I have got my strength up and I won't give up. 

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TC: How many races have the two of you done together and what number Ironman is this?

MB: I have done several runs with the KPeasey, but never a triathlon. I'm just doing the swim. This will be my first swim with either J-Dude or the KPeasey.

J-Dude:  I have done some training days with my team of Micah, Matt, and Fred but we have not ran races together.   This is my 2nd Full Ironman.  I did Ironman Florida in 2015.

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TC: How are you each training for this? How will your training change over the next months?

MB: I started a training plan in March and have stuck to it. Luckily, Maria Thrash is the Masters’ coach at Dynamo Multisport and she's keeping me honest. She's one of the best masters’ coaches in the nation, so I'm lucky to train with her. We have also done a "test run" at Lake Allatoona and will do an Olympic tri this weekend. Doing the Olympic is the only change between now and race day. Being a little more careful with nutrition and tapering slightly a few days before the event, but that’s it.

J-Dude:  A lot of my training is doing floor work exercises and stretches and using kettle-bells to get my arms and shoulders stronger.  I have also been riding my Freedom Concepts Bike - shout out to Cannon Cyclery for that!  I have been focusing on eating right and meal plans.

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TC: Who will be accompanying y’all to Wisconsin?

MB: Teresa, J-Dude , Micah cyclist, Fred runner, Ian Evans and I are going.

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TC: What do you see as the most challenging leg of it all and what is your strength?

MB: I lucked out and got the easiest portion; the swim.  It’s flat, cold, and hopefully an hour and 15 minutes long. The bike and run and very difficult, but I think the bike might be slightly harder. 

J-Dude:  THE BIKE!!!  The bike will be the hardest part -- 112 miles is a long way to go on that bike and by the end, my butt will be sore from sitting in the one position.  My legs kind of get stiff, too.  I am strong and tough and just like every day of my life when I face a challenge, I can do what I have to do to make it through!!!

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TC:  J-Dude -does this get old or more exciting each time?

J-Dude:  MORE EXCITING!!  It will never get old to me.  Because setting goals and reaching them makes me feel like I am living a good life!! And when people see me doing these big things, it helps them to know that anything is possible.

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TC:  What is your ultimate goal in racing?

I want to make to Hawaii to do Ironman. While I am getting there I want to help other people reach goals too, and live a happy life.

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TC: Matt, have you ever done Wisconsin before with or w/o J-Dude  and how will it differ? Any other Ironman races?

MB: I've never done an Ironman. I've done five half's, but never a full. Since I'm just doing the swim, I'll be able to go all out on the swim and that will be different. Obviously I've never pulled anyone before so that will add, but I've been training for that and the run through we did at Lake Allatoona went very well. 

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TC:  Where do we find your fundraising link and how is it going?

MB:  https://kyle-pease-foundation-inc.networkforgood.com/projects/53105-J-Dude -takes-on-ironman-wisconsin. It’s going well so far. The bulk of our fundraising will come from an event this coming weekend and we are almost where we were hoping to be going into that event.

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TC:  Have Brent or Kyle given you any words of advice?

MB: They told me not to suck and embarrass the foundation. No, Brent has been very helpful in giving lots of great advice.  Having been on the course before he has shared some tips on the race itself too.

J-Dude First of all DON'T GIVE UP... and have fun!!!  Work hard, train hard, and YOU CAN DO THIS ALL DAY LONG!

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TC:  Teresa, what is it like to see your little boy traveling around the country racing?

Teresa (J-Dude ’s Mama):  Wow, where do I begin!!!  Sometimes, it is hard to find the words to aptly express the emotions that I feel watching my guy participate and conquer any race, but especially an IRONMAN!  I am his biggest fan and cheerleader.  My heart swells with pride from the moment we pray over each race and I send him out with a mom kiss!  Knowing that what he is doing is not only boosting his self-confidence, but also being a light and helping others is an answer to a prayer that I prayed over him when he was born.  I can remember when he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at age one.  As I held him and looked at him, I remember speaking over him: "This will not hold you back.  You will be great. You will do many things, you will be strong, you will accomplish your hearts' desires, and you will show the world that all things are possible".  Little did I know how these things would come to fruition! 

Through KPF, J-Dude discovered his gifts - our tasks as parents is to raise our children to be good, honest, caring people, who go out into the world and utilize their gifts to make the world a better place, and to help others.  Every time J-Dude rolls onto a race course, I get to witness yet another moment of him sharing his bright smile to touch someone's life and make it a bit better - THAT MAKES ME THE PROUDEST MAMA ON THIS PLANET! 

I would be lying if I said that I never get nervous/anxious about some races.   Example:   his first triathlon, I was a nervous wreck about him being in the boat... what if he falls out, what if he needs something, etc.?  I stood on the shore and watched anxiously as his partner pulled his boat out on the swim course and headed out......  I was a bundle of nerves until they were in the home stretch of the swim coming in and as I looked out onto the lake.... I see J-Dude laid back in the boat, one hand behind his head, with a thumbs up and a HUGE smile on his face - at that moment all those nerves went away and I knew he was on to something special!!! 

I could go on for days about how freakin' proud I am of my guy.   I am thankful for each day that I get to be his mom, and for every opportunity I can share with him in his efforts to accomplish great things and use those accomplishments to make this world a better place!  I look forward to future endeavors with my favorite guy!

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TC: How has competing with KPF changed all three of you?

MB: The old adage "You get back more than you give" is very true here. I've really enjoyed getting to know Teresa and working with J-Dude . It’s also been a spark to my training and fitness. I'm much more motivated to train for this than doing something on my own. When I think about the race, I think about getting out of the water and running to transition with all the fans screaming for J-Dude . He'll probably be giving high fives. I get fired up, I can't wait.

J-Dude:  Being with the Kyle Pease Foundation has changed my whole life!  I now have things to look forward to doing and places to go and people to see!!!  I have done so many things that I never even thought of being able to do.  I wrote a book, I get to travel, which I Love, I get to help other people when they may be struggling and they see the things that I have done.   I also have a job now.  I tried and tried to get jobs before and no one would hire me.  But now, thanks to KPF, I have a job and I love it!  It makes me feel good to have this to do.  I send out the tax letters to people who donate money to KPF.  I have run Marine Corp Marathon two times and doing it again this October.  I got to do the New York Marathon in November 2017!  I have met many new friends that will last a lifetime.  I love every one of them.   Kyle and Brent are like the brothers I never had.  They have helped me learn so much about myself, about life, about how to help others, and to NEVER GIVE UP!! 

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Helen and Noah to Enjoy Rocky Mountain High for KPF

The Kyle Pease Foundation is based in Atlanta with most of their athletes reside in the neighborhoods, cities and downs around Georgia’s capital city. But as KPF continues to visit other parts of the country or their participants move to parts unknown, small KPF annexes continue to surface. One such extension of the Foundation can be found in the mountains of Colorado, where Helen Gardner moved nearly two years ago. Though Helen now calls the Rocky Mountains her home, her heart remains in The Gate City of the South.

From August 28 - 31, Helen will combine her love of mountain biking with her love of the Kyle Pease Foundation; specifically Noah Williams. The two of them will be embarking on a 167 mile, four day ride around the West Elk Loop Scenic Byway of the Rocky Mountains. That's 167 miles ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 feet of elevation! The duo has set a fund raising goal of $8,500 but this ride is about much more than money. It is about love, bonding and learning a little bit about themselves and each other. I caught up with Helen via phone after she had just returned from a training run earlier this week. Winded but enthusiastic as always, Helen was ready, willing and able to share some thought about her “chubby cheeked” riding partner and their journey into the Rockies.

Todd: Tell us about your meeting of the Williams' and how the bonding took place.

Helen: I met the Williams' in October of 2015 at the Marine Corps Marathon. I was there to play cheerleader and had only briefly met them before then. When they arrived from Augusta to DC after a LONG drive, I offered to help Naomi thinking she'd ask me to unload her car. Instead, she asked me to watch Noah in their room while she got situated. I had only met Kyle earlier that day, so I hadn't had much exposure to disabled persons. To say I was overwhelmed is an understatement, but I wasn't going to tell her "no". I sat with him in their room. I don't remember exactly what I said, but I babbled a bit because I was nervous. Due to my newness to the situation I wasn’t sure if he could understand or hear me. I said something to him at some point and he rolled his head back and smiled with this gap-toothed grin. My heart blew open. I fell instantly in love with this kid, that smile, and those cheeks and realized that I needed to stop assuming I knew anything about anything. It was absolutely one of the best moments of my life.

Todd: What did Naomi say when you suggested the trip? 

Helen: She didn't hesitate to say, "Yes!" and I was THRILLED. I felt like I was asking someone to prom. :-)

Todd: Why Noah? 

Helen: Noah was the first athlete outside of Kyle that I really connected with. There's the added bonus of connecting with Naomi, who has become one of my closest friends. It only made sense that they would be who I wanted to come along. 

Todd: How did you decide that Colorado would be your destination? 

Helen: I moved to Colorado about a year and a half ago and fell in love immediately. I love my Kpeasey family and the fear of losing touch with them was very real. I wanted to stay connected with them, share my love of cycling and this beautiful place that I get to call home with some of my favorite people.

Todd: How are you training? How is Noah training? 

Helen: I have a coach (Stacy Sims) who has experience with doing events with the foundation, so she knows what I'm facing in real life. We started training in November of last year. I've been riding and running at least five days a week for months to prepare. LOTS of climbing at elevation. Noah has been doing some bike training with Naomi. She's taken him for several rides to prep him for long hours in his trailer.

Todd: Have you ever taken on such a challenge? 

Helen: Never. This is the biggest physical and mental challenge ever. There are so many parts that have gone into this. It isn't just the training, but the fundraising and, because we are doing this solo and not part of a larger event, I've also taken on EVERY logistical component as well.

Todd: What will you and Noah talk about? 

Helen: Noah is non-verbal which has gotten some questions from people. "How will you be motivated if he can't tell you if you're doing a good job?" While isn't able to speak, I've done enough events with him to know how he's feeling. Our events typically consist of my constant talking and his smiling. We have our own language. That's all I need.

Todd: Who makes up your support team? 

Helen: Naomi: Noah's mom, Stacy Sims: My coach, Peter Darragh: One of my shop employees who will play as mechanic/sherpa and photographer and Dennis Vanderheiden: Who runs “Colorado's Athletes in Tandem”. He is the guy who inspired this ride as he's done 14 day adventures with assisted athletes. He's here to sherpa and be the voice of experience in all of this!

Todd: Are there any additional challenges you encounter by bringing Noah along? 

Helen: We'll be at pretty high altitude and we aren't sure how he's going to take that, so we've been in contact with his physicians back home. Naomi is hydrating him the week plus, leading up to this. Noah has spent a decent amount of time in push chairs for his running events, but a bike trailer for hours will be a new experience. We are breaking the 167 miles up into four days to account for his health and safety with a lot of stops along the way to check in with him. If I were doing this solo, 167 miles could be done in a day. I'm not risking that with him...plus, it gives me four days of fun with my buddy.

Todd: Tell us about how KPF has changed your life, when you became involved, and what your family thinks? 

Helen: I got involved with KPF in the fall of 2015 after having just filed for divorce and feeling unsure about my entire future. I was facing my biggest life failure and meeting Brent and Kyle and all of the KPeasey people genuinely saved me. There are no coincidences in life, so they came into mine at the perfect time. They not only lifted me up when I was at my lowest by becoming my friends, but they inspired me to be and DO better. I've gotten to help run logistics for some of their biggest events which gave me to confidence to take on this challenge. They've also inspired me to take better care of myself and I'm in the best shape of my life. I consider my KPF network family.

Todd: Describe the feelings you anticipate upon completion and what do you think both Naomi and Noah will feel? 

Helen: It's no secret I'm Kpeasey Resident Crier, so I anticipate happy tears and a massive feeling of accomplishment. Not just physically, but through this entire process. I hope that Naomi and Noah feel proud, too, because they've been training and prepping for this for a long time themselves. It's truly taken a group effort. At the end of every half marathon we've done, I've gotten to put Noah's finishers' medal around his neck and it's one of my favorite moments. While we don't get medals for our effort this time, I can't wait to end our final day with a kiss on those cheeks for a job well done. We will have accomplished this Big Adventure for the first time together and I anticipate the feeling of that bond being incredibly overwhelming.

Though it’s clearly not all about the money, Helen and Noah are only half way to their fundraising goal of $8500. Please take a moment and consider donating to their very special journey by visiting the link below:

TO DONATE

Pease Brothers Have Nothing but Respect for Kona

Pease Brothers Have Nothing but Respect for Kona

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Hello KPeasey Nation,

It has been quite a whirlwind the past few weeks since we were blessed with the announcement of our selection to compete at Kona and the training is really getting amped up. Brent has been training like a madman and brings me out to join him as often as he can. We are always serious about our training but getting prepared for Kona puts training into a whole new category. We will share more about our training regimen in upcoming posts. 

In case, you missed it, USA today did an incredible piece on our journey to Kona. They did a wonderful job of conveying our message that our trip to Kona is more than just to further the legacy of Brent and I. It's about what the accomplishment can mean to the foundation. This is an opportunity for the Kyle Pease Foundation to be at the forefront of something special.  Although we don't know exactly where all of this is going to bring us, I know that this journey of inclusion is something truly amazing. Kona gives us the opportunity for KPF to realize so much on behalf of our athletes. Our athletes and their happiness and ability to be included is the most paramount piece of our organization.

Brent and I are slowly beginning to realize the opportunity that Kona presents. Although it won't be easy and we give the utmost respect to the Queen K and the entire course, this amazing challenge will go down in history. Brent and I will give it our best to become the first duo brother team in the world to attempt and complete Kona.

Again it all circles around the foundation. The opportunity that it will present after the race is in the books will be a tidal wave is competing in the race will open up doors for more racing opportunities, greater exposure to fundraising  and even job opportunities for our athletes.

Speaking of fundraising. I am overwhelmed with joy to announce that KPF has reached their fundraising goal for Kona with a couple months to spare. Every dollar that was donated will be matched up to $10,000 by a generous donor.  Additional  dollars raised, above our goal, will go towards a  new equipment truck and a handicapped accessible van to transport athletes to and from races in a more efficient way. 

Before I sign off, I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that J-dude will be taking on Ironman Wisconsin in September. Brent and I learned several years ago, what a challenging course that can be, but we are sure that J-dude and team will be up for the Cheesehead Challenge!! 

Until next time, remember Together We Wheel!!

Inclusion on Display

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With our Nation's celebration of independence still in view, I can't get over the after glow of our own KPF celebration of independence. I hope that everyone from sea to shining sea had a beautiful 4th of July. 

Another successful AJC Peachtree Road Race was highlighted by amazing competition as Brent and I pulled our a dramatic thrilling victory. The weather was beautiful  with inclusion being showcased at the world's largest 10K. The competition was fierce throughout the event with several new comers to the Kpeasey team toeing the starting line at the Peachtree this year.

Though never truly about the wins and losses, with a time of just under 38 minutes, Brent and I executed our race plan to perfection with our biggest race of our lives looming ahead in less than 100 days. Sherry Adams and Brandon Clift won the mixed division and Lizzie Kirksey and Rebecca Carpenter took the top prize in the Women's Push Assit Division. This is the second year of Push Assist Divisions at Peachtree. Not only were the races competitive but the Kyle Pease Foundation continued to break down barriers and show  inclusion on full display.

Now we turn our attention to the falls series highlighted by the Marine Corps Marathon, Justin Knight and team at Ironman WI and culminating in the first brother duo in the world to ever compete in the Ironman World Championship at Kona, HI in October. 

I want to thank so many people, but I especially want to thank Shepherd Center and Atlanta Track Club for helping us create the most competitive push assist race we have ever seen.  Sharing a race that I grew up watching with first timers, and long time race veterans is something that I truly enjoy every moment of.  Even that 3:40 am wake up call :0

We will have additional blogs to share focusing on Kona training updates as well as the unveiling of our new book "We Are All Brothers."  Remember that applications for the Jake Vinson Grant are due by August 31 and finally I leave you with this before turning the blog over to my brother.  America was founded for its freedom. Its just so fitting how inclusion, which represents independence at it's finest, was allowed to be on display on the Fourth of July. 

Now onward and upward as I turn it over to my best friend and brother, Brent. 

As we close out on another great Peachtree our focus shifts to our fall events.  We thank you all for being a part of our KPeasey family and helping show others that, "Where there is a wheel, there is a way!"

Kyle and I have been striving for KONA since 2012 and this year we get our first crack at the hardest single day endurance event on the planet. Had we gotten into KONA in 2012/2013, I am not sure we would have been prepared to make the most of this very unique opportunity. While we will be racing together, our  hope is that our racing will create even more opportunities for disabled persons.  Funds raised for KONA will support a new transport vehicle, a new truck, a van scholarship fund and job opportunities for disabled persons.

This was a personal goal of ours to compete in KONA, but now it carries additional meaning and motivation for us. We thank each of you for continuing to support our dream and the goals of KPF.  Join us for one more this year and help make a big difference in the lives of disabled persons.

Before I sign off, we have a world championship challenge for you as we have a donor willing to match up to $10k for donations made in July. It's like our own personal BOGO. For every dollar donated up to 10K we get another dollar absolutely free. 

I would like to close by thanking Matt & Becky (Yoga Works Atlanta) for helping us grow the push assist division and the dollars to support it, Greg & Christy for creating an event that is the catalyst for so many generous gifts and of course the Shepherd Center and the Atlanta Track Club for your incredible support.