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Just a little feel good story

Posted by on Aug. 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM
Liz
  • 11 Replies

‘Team Maddy:’ A father and severely disabled daughter compete in triathlons together 


Rick Van Beek pushes his daughter during the running section of a competition.

Rick Van Beek via Facebook

Rick Van Beek pushes his daughter during the running section of a competition.

A triathlon can be an arduous task for one person, but when Michigan dad Rick Van Beek competes, he doesn’t do it alone.

Crossing the finish line during a Sanford, Mich., race on Saturday, he cradled his daughter in his arms. He couldn’t have imagined doing it without her.

That’s because Van Beek, 39, enters almost every triathalon or race with his 13-year-old, Maddy, who was diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy after she was born. The duo has reached a milestone, competing in more than 75 events since 2008, Van Beek told the Daily News on Tuesday.

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Rick Van Beek via Facebook

Van Beek uses a kayak to bring Maddy along during the swimming leg.

In all of those contests, it wasn’t about where they came in or how fast they finished. They are simply Team Maddy.

“I’ve never been disappointed crossing the finish line,” Van Beek said, “because I’m doing it with my daughter.”

During the swimming portion of the triathalon, Van Beek tows Maddy in a kayak. He then scoops up his girl, who weighs about 80 pounds, and carries her to the biking leg, where he hitches up a special cart that he built for Maddy to ride in.

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Rick Van Beek via Facebook

Van Beek built the cart he transports Maddy in during the bike leg.

Finally, during the run portion, Van Beek pushes a stroller as they stride toward the finish line.

“She’s very docile, she doesn’t move around a lot,” Van Beek, of Byron Center, said.

Maddy functions as if she were a 3-month-old, he added. She doesn’t talk or walk, and is also blind.

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Rick Van Beek via Facebook

‘She’s very docile, she doesn’t move around a lot,’ Van Beek said.

Her physical disabilities aside, the girl is full of expression, giving sideways smiles to her father and bursting out in a joyful laugh.

“If she’s not having fun, we stop,” said Van Beek, adding that he’s pulled her out of races when she wasn’t feeling well or the weather was too hot.

Van Beek tries not to strain himself during races.

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Rick Van Beek via Facebook

Rick Van Beek and his daughter Maddy share their triathlete adventures on Beek's social media page.

“The hardest part for me is the transition from the swim to the bike because I carry her,” he said. “She has a fused spine, so it’s like carrying a board.”

Van Beek said he decided to start racing after Maddy took part in the Grand Rapids Marathon about four years ago through the Ride of their Lives program, which pairs abled-bodied athletes and kids with special needs.

At the time, the father of three was smoking two packs of cigarettes a day, and had to make a serious lifestyle change. Maddy was his inspiration — and their races became a way to bond.

Team Maddy has another race this weekend. They’ve previously raised money for charities and they even have a sponsor, 3 Disciplines Racing, which helps shoulder the registration cost of the competitions.

Racers often tell Van Beek that they’re amazed by his commitment and endurance with Maddy.

“They’re such an inspiration,” triathalon organizer Misty Angle told The Allegan County News earlier this month after a competition.

Van Beek has his own advice for people who think about giving up in the face of roadblocks.

“It’s about putting one foot in front of the other,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes to get to the finish line, it’s about you and that you got there.”


by on Aug. 15, 2012 at 10:35 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Jillysmom
by Adele on Aug. 15, 2012 at 10:56 AM

wow, Liz, that had me crying. What an inspiring story. Can I steal it?

lizmarie1975
by Liz on Aug. 15, 2012 at 10:58 AM


Quoting Jillysmom:

wow, Liz, that had me crying. What an inspiring story. Can I steal it?

Of course

Jillysmom
by Adele on Aug. 15, 2012 at 11:01 AM

cool,btw check other b/c when you have time

Quoting lizmarie1975:


Quoting Jillysmom:

wow, Liz, that had me crying. What an inspiring story. Can I steal it?

Of course


MELRN
by Bronze Member on Aug. 15, 2012 at 2:49 PM

great read

powow65
by Kim on Aug. 15, 2012 at 2:59 PM
Aw. That is so wonderful
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Cecelia712
by Gold Member on Aug. 15, 2012 at 3:11 PM
1 mom liked this
That was a very inspirational story. A parents love knows no boundaries.
Posted on CafeMom Mobile
SamMom912
by Platinum Member on Aug. 15, 2012 at 7:11 PM
Wow... Just wow!
Hubby asked if they couldnt find childcare when he was training.. Trying to be funny! NOT
Wyldbutterfly
by Snow Bunny on Aug. 15, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Awe! <3  this story!

Cecelia712
by Gold Member on Aug. 15, 2012 at 8:51 PM
1 mom liked this
That's something my husband would've said. They just can't admit they actually have feelings! Men are such............ MEN!


Quoting SamMom912:

Wow... Just wow!

Hubby asked if they couldnt find childcare when he was training.. Trying to be funny! NOT

Posted on CafeMom Mobile
Mom2jngnc
by Stephannie on Aug. 15, 2012 at 10:43 PM

that is such a nice story..... 

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