Everyone at SOS Group is incredibly proud to sponsor and support the wonderful Reason To Disability Triathlon, which took place in glorious sunshine in Newcastle yesterday.
Almost 50 North East children and adults with disabilities took part in the annual event, jointly held at David Lloyd Club and Paddy Freeman’s Park, making it the largest to date.
The competitors, aged from nine-years-old to adult, have a wide variety of disabilities and were able to complete a traditional triathlon by swimming, running and cycling with support and specially adapted equipment.
The inspirational event closed with a medal ceremony with professional triathlete, Dan Dixon from Morpeth, as special guest.
As well as being headline sponsors and donating welcome packs, t-shirts and prizes, SOS Group loves providing practical support on the day and gives assistance by transporting the specially adapted bikes for use at the event.
Andrew Skelton says: “It’s been absolutely tremendous all day. A bit too warm for biking, running and swimming, so it was a real challenge for the competitors. As always, it was very inspirational to watch and we’re extremely proud to be part of the day.
“My favourite moment is registration when they first come in and you can see the enthusiasm on their faces and the joy when they meet their friends.
“It’s a fantastic event and really underlines the importance of inclusion for all. Long may it continue!”
Organised by triathletes, Jo Shallcross and Tracey Sample, The Reason To Disability Triathlon began with just a handful of competitors and has grown year on year.
Jo says: “When this started it was just for a few children that I coached and then I realised there was such a need for it. Tracey came on board and we started to grow it together as a team.
“It’s a huge community now and very special because when the competitors come together you can see the friendships that have grown over the years. The smiles today have been amazing.
“To do a triathlon is a real challenge for them because of the tiredness levels they often experience. So, they could go out for a swim and that would finish them off for the day but you’re asking them to swim, bike and run.
“So, it is an enormous challenge but we’ve set it up well so they go in waves and have a break between each one with time to reenergise and get a drink.”
Jo was first inspired to organise a triathlon tailored to the individual needs of North East children after seeing a child with disabilities enjoying the event in Hawaii.
Some of the children who have enjoyed the event over the years are adults now and, after a successful trial run in 2019, Jo and Tracey opened the Reason To Triathlon to older entrants last year.
Jo adds: “You can compete in sport individually and get a buzz out of that but competing with friends is a whole new experience and maybe one our competitors don’t normally get. We can give them the same kind of enjoyment we have as athletes and it’s very obvious today how much they have all enjoyed it.”
Rosie Bell, aged 15 from Ponteland, has cerebral palsy and dystonia. This was the Ponteland High School pupil’s second triathlon and, for Rosie, it felt important to complete the challenge.
Rosie explains: “It’s to prove a point that even though we are disabled we all can do a triathlon. I’ve always been like that. I don’t like the fact that we can’t do things. We can, but adapted, we can still do it.
“It’s not the activity that really matters. It’s all these kids together as a community to do something that they can do and that’s amazing.”