Dear Kelly Brush Foundation,
I am sending this to you as a formal thank you for the grant that was provided in order for me to get a brand new Top End Force handcycle. As you may recall in my application, I had informed you that I did have a handcycle, but that it was more of a recreational bike, rather than one that I could compete on. When I did my very first full marathon on January 9, 2011 at Walt Disney World, I finished in 3:21:00. Not having any prior races to compare with, I felt that my finish time was good. As I continued to train, and competed in three more marathons last year, my finish times were not getting much better. Most of the races I had been entering, I either came in last place, or very close to it. From what I was being told from other racers, if I really wanted to compete, I would need a bike designed for racing. As a quadriplegic, I was in a totally different class of athletes than the para’s I was racing against, and I came to the conclusion that I should just focus on racing against myself.
I received the new Force just before Christmas, and had about four weeks to train for the ING Miami Marathon on January 29, 2012. Since this was my first time on this course, but I knew there were going to be a few bridges involved, I set a finish time goal of 3:00:00. I am excited to announce to you that I had a finish time of 2:40:53. I beat my goal time by twenty minutes, and that’s forty minutes faster than my first race. Probably the thing that was even more exciting than my finish time was that around mile 18, I passed a para! This new bike has opened up a totally new perspective on racing for me. I no longer feel that I am in a class by myself, but I can now race against other athletes.
In my application letter, I had also mentioned about “paying it forward” in regards to my old bike. I had gotten involved with the South Florida chapter of Achilles International, and after much thought and prayer in what direction I should go in starting my own organization, I felt God wanted me to start an Achilles chapter in my area. On January 26, I was notified that I was accepted to be the director of the Achilles International, Treasure Coast chapter.
I have already been able to loan my other bike out to “Kristi”. She is a forty year old para that has been paralyzed since she was an infant due to cancer. It was very exciting to be there to witness her reaction when she got on the bike for the first time. This wasn’t just the first time on a handcycle, it was her first time ON A BIKE!
Thank you again for helping to make this dream a reality, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without your help.
2011 KBF Grant Recipient