On Sunday, Alan Brint of Highland Park will swim a half mile in the rough waters of Lake Geneva, ride his bike across 12.5 miles of winding country roads, and run 3.1 miles through the rolling forest preserve trails.
His older brother, Zack, 15, will be Alan’s sighted guide. The pair will complete their first sprint distance triathlon together. Sela Cornell, 8, of Wilmette, along with her sighted guide, will tackle the course as well.
Cornell was born in 2002 with Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis (LCA), a rare disease of the retina that typically causes vision to degenerate over time, often leaving its victims completely blind. One year after her birth, Sela’s parents, Mike and Chrissy, avid athletes and lovers of the outdoors, mobilized their family and friends to participate in a triathlon to raise funds and awareness for LCA.
Thirty participants in Lake Geneva’s Bigfoot Triathlon raised $15,000 on behalf of the Foundation for Retinal Research (FRR) in that first year. Today, with seven years of swimming, biking and running under their belts, the family’s grassroots crusade has brought in over $250,000 for the FRR’s research and family support programs.
This will be the second consecutive year the children will be participating in the race. Asked what her favorite memory from last year’s triathlon was, Sela’s response was simple: “Finishing the bike, because I was done with the triathlon. It was exciting to finish, to hear all of the people cheering.”
Of course, Sela and Alan are looking forward to completing the race again this year, alongside adult family and friends who race as teams or individuals. When asked if he is excited about competing this year, Alan was quick to shout, “Absolutely!”
But there’s more to it for Alan. “I felt like I could be prepared for it, and I like the challenge,” he says.
All three children will cross the finish line together, and they are even hoping to improve upon their times this year. They are grateful for and inspired by the support and devotion of those who come from near and far to work up a sweat on behalf of FRR.
The Cornell triathlon fundraiser will take place on June 27 as part of the Big Foot Triathlon in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. More information about their fundraiser—including how to sponsor them—can be found at within-sight.org.
FRR, charity partner of the Big Foot Triathlon, is committed to finding treatments and cures for Retinal Degenerative Diseases and supporting the lives of affected families. More info is at tfrr.org.