Pretty much the only thing impossible in Kyle Pease’s life is telling him “no.”
I offer this as guidance, because Kyle strikes me as clever enough to know that’s not what most people expect when they first meet him.
Being as most of us our visual beings, you’d probably first notice a 28-year-old man who has spent his life in a wheel chair, arms curled up with his hands near his shoulders, the result of a life spent with cerebral palsy.
Look a little closer and you’ll see sparkling blue eyes and a smile as long as a marathon, a comparison that comes to mind because of a story he told me, something he decided to do a few years ago.
So, a few years ago, Kyle heads to Louisville, Kentucky to watch his older brother, Brent, compete in an Ironman Triathlon.
The thrill of the physical challenge created a single thought.
“Can I do one of those? Can I do an Ironman?”
“I was tired of watching my brothers do sports from the sidelines,” he told me this week. “I wanted to participate.”
Keep in mind, there’s participating and then there’s the Ironman.
We’re talking a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run.
A crazy thought for anyone, let alone a guy in a wheelchair.
Having known his brother his entire life, Brent knew there was only one answer to the crazy question about Kyle doing an Ironman. “Hell, yes!” he said.
“The truth is,” Brent told me, “If I didn’t agree to do this with Kyle, he’d find someone else to do it with.”
To know Kyle Pease is to know his is a ride you don’t want to miss.
That doesn’t mean the Brothers Pease knew how they were going to pull this off.
Over a series of races, they’ve come up with a system where Brent pulls Kyle in a kayak for the swim portion, they ride a tandem bike for the second leg, and Brent pushes Kyle in a special chair.
“We are a team,” Brent said. “Kyle isn’t just along for the ride. Except for the swim, he’s in front, facing forward, by design.”
“I’m shouting directions and encouragement to Brent,” Kyle added.
“My brother borrows my legs and I borrow his spirit,” Brent said. “He makes me feel like more of an athlete. I’d done triathlons before, but there is nothing like crossing a finish line with my brother. We ride together to inspire everybody to find a way to challenge themselves.”
“Every day is an Ironman for me,” Kyle shared. “Just getting through with everyday things that other people take for granted. Getting dressed, eating, having to rely on others for my basic needs. But I realize is what’s hard for me is easy for other people and what’s hard for other people is easy for me.”
“What’s easy for you?” I asked.
“Pubic speaking,” he shared how he loves to talk to big groups about what he’s learned with his challenges. “Trusting,” he added. “I take a lot of public transportation. I’ve learned to trust strangers enough to ask them to help me get my money out. A lot of people can’t trust a stranger like that.
The brothers know other disabled folks would love the ride. So they’ve started The Kyle Pease Foundation to help get others the same thrill the brothers get when they compete. They’re part of a team bringing 40 kids to the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., next month. “It could be the largest assisted runner category of any race in the country,” they told me.
Their enthusiasm for their sport and helping others is infectious.
“I’d love to go for training run with you guys,” I said. But when they told me how fast they go, I realized I could never keep up.
“But we could use volunteer runners to help push other disabled athletes who just want to be in a race,” they offered.
“Push someone I’ve never met?” I asked.
“Sure!” they said.
Looks like it’s time to up my training.
Kyle makes it impossible to say “no.”
How to help
Kyle Pease Foundation: www.kylepeasefoundation.org/