The now 8-year-old from Beavercreek participated in late July in his second I Can Tri-athlon, an untimed event for children 4-16 with different abilities.
Like other participants, Thomas along with family and friends gave it their all and went away winners.
His mother, Sarah Flach, said Thomas first participated as a 5-year-old in the I Can Tri-athlon in 2019 at Troy’s recreation facilities near the Great Miami River.
The family found out about the event through a flyer seen at his therapists’ office.
After the event was canceled the subsequent two years due to COVID, it returned this summer with a new twist. While in the past the I Can was held after the July Troy Kids Triathlon for those with regular abilities, this year’s event was on a different day.
The change was sparked by the growing number of participants that had made it difficult logistically and time-wise for the organization behind I Can Tri-athlon to complete their event in the time available.
A separate date gave them more time with easier parking and drop-off of equipment, said Faye McNearney of Miamibucs a 501C3 and local chapter of national organization AMBUCS.
“Our mission is to provide trykes at little or no cost to adults and children in Miami County who are not able to ride a typical bike,” McNearney said.
“Since its inception, we have given away approximately 100 trykes to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Funding was received from private donations, various grants, quarter auctions and sponsors for the “I Can” Tri-athlon,” she said.
These trykes are also available to veterans and range in cost from approximately $700 to $1,800.
The I Can Tri-athlon includes riding a bike/tryke 0.2 miles or 0.5 miles, depending upon ability; walking/running or using a gait trainer/walker/crutches/manual or power wheelchair for a distance of 0.25 miles or shorter distance, depending on ability; and one lap across the Troy Aquatic Park pool, assisted as needed by special pool volunteers.
Thomas was born with spina bifida and cranial encephalitis and has no feeling from his knees down. He walks with a walker but has some independent walking ability; has a shunt in brain; and has low muscle tone, Sara Flach said,
“I have three other kids, and it is easy to find things that challenge them physically. It is really hard to find things that Thomas can do that are hard for him but that he is still able to do,” she said. “I think the people in Troy really nailed it (with the event). It is hard but they can do it and it was really rewarding.”
The Flach family also includes dad, John, and three other children. Thomas attends their events and cheers them on, while they attend those in which Thomas participates, Sarah Flach said.
McNearney said the triathlon is used to promote wellness for the participating children.
“Some children are unable to participate because they do not have a tryke. This event has given awareness to parents that adapted trykes are available to their children so they can have a means of recreation,” she said.
“We have donated several used trykes to these individuals and ordered new ones. Presently it is taking months to get these trykes, due to the supply chain.”
More information is available on Facebook at Miamibucs. A website is planned but not yet complete. If people have questions about the organization, they can call 937-335-4103.
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