NEWTOWN, Conn. —
After much cajoling from her son, Kowalski went on line to research whether anyone offered triathlons for kids. She found one scheduled for a week later in Mansfield, about 90 minutes away.
The YMCA project, now called the Race4Chase Kid's Triathlon Program, will train children for six weeks during the summer in the fundamentals of swimming, racing and bicycling, culminating with a short-course triathlon, where the kids will earn medals.
"Self-esteem is a big part of this," said Jim O'Rourke, the executive director of the Greater Waterbury YMCA. "When you see a kid who could not even swim six weeks before complete this event, and see that look on their face. It lets them know that they can achieve."
The foundation is working with the YMCA to create protocols and a package that will allow other organizations across the country to set up similar Race4Chase triathlons, Rebecca Kowalski said. Two other Connecticut YMCAs are in talks to have races as early as next summer.
A Race4Chase triathlon is being planned for Newtown-area kids next July in Monroe, where Sandy Hook kids are currently attending school.
A lot of the funding is coming from athletes. The Kowalskis' fireplace is covered with medals that have been sent to them, some anonymously, by marathoners, triathletes, and others who have heard Chase's story.
Many raise money by collecting pledges for the miles they complete, logging them on the foundation website. The goal is to get to 1 million miles. Runners have tallied a little over 5,000 miles so far.
One of Stephen's childhood friends, Kevin Bresnahan of Colchester, Conn., recently completed 1,000 miles for Race4Chase, beginning the last leg of his endeavor at the high school where Chase ran his first races. There he left one of two batons he created with Chase's name on them.