Reader Profile - Our Cover Story
"We limit ourselves by taking on the disability of our children rather than having the vision of using our ability to let them fly." - Kevin Garwood
Motivational speaker, Kevin Garwood, and his wife, Cheryl, an executive life coach, sat and sobbed together in April 2009 as they watched the online video of Team Hoyt, a father and son team who compete in marathons and triathlons.
When doctors diagnosed Nikki with CP, Kevin and Cheryl agreed that he should enjoy life as much as the next kid and see as much of the world as possible. They have been to Table Mountain, Robben Island, the Kruger Park and have even gone dog sledding across the Canadian snows. Even so, slowly but surely, they were leading ever more introverted lives.
By 20 May 2009, Nikki's birthday, Team Garwood had taken delivery of a special bike trailer that they could hook up behind a bicycle. In November 2009 they finished the 94.7 in around 5h40m!
In January 2010 Team Garwood attempted the Ironman 70.3 in Buffalo City, a 1.9 kmswim, 90 km bike ride and a 21.1 km run! The swim, with Nikki in a kayak,worked well but Kevin was still building his fitness levels and the bike trailer acted like a parachute, dragging behind him the whole way. Nikki and Kevin missed the bike stage cut-off by a huge margin.
They made modifications to the trailer, Kevin got fitter and they completed the 2010 94.7 in 5h20. At the 2011 Ironman 70.3 the weather was a nightmare but they managed to improve their time and only missed the cut-off by about ½ an hour. During this Ironman Kevin and Nikki discovered how difficult it was to communicate with Nikki in the trailer - so it was back to the drawing board.
They now ride a modified tandem bike. With Nikki siting up front in a reclining position their heads are very close together and they can chat along the way. At the 2012 Ironman 70.3 they missed the bike cut-off by mere seconds!
For the jogging part of the course Kevin has worked closely with CE Mobility. They have fixed an extension out from behind the rear wheels of an ATW and affixed abicycle handlebar with a brake mechanism going to an extended front wheel. Elbow supports and handgrips keep Nikki's hands and arms safe from the whizzing wheels and he looks suitably in control as they zoom along.
13year-old Nikki's sparkling brown eyes were full of excitement as he explained that he and his dad are taking part in the Argus (11 March 2012) at the request of the Institute for Drug Free Sports SA. The team will consist of many celebrities including Minister of Sport, Fikile Mbalule, Helen Zille and Chester Williams.
Nikki, Cheryl and Kevin's marathon venture hasn't been cheap and, even with the assistance of sponsors such as K-Swiss and PeptoPro, they struggle to raise the funds to compete. Kevin is hoping that the Argus event will raise their visibility and bring some more sponsors to the team.
For Kevin it is all about the bond and, as Nikki talks about their adventures, he smiles proudly at his dad, his smile framed by adorable dimples. They want to encourage other families affected by disability to get involved in sports and experience the amazing bond that develops when you work together as a team.