It was at either the first or second triathlon that I did that I saw Hector Picard for the first time. It would have been a Trilogy on Key Biscayne and they have a first wave for elites and physically challenged.
After the mass of speedy swimmers went by I saw a person swimming / bobbing along on his back. Looking closely you see that he doesn't have at least one arm. I didn't know his story or why he was doing the race but it looked really challenging to say the least.
I now know Hector's story because he's a local athlete who clearly loves to race triathlon so if you go to a local race chances are you'll see him racing.
Of course, when you learn he has no arms the first thing to come to mind is how does he do this? At least that's what came to my mind. Because he's a fixture on the local race scene I learned from other triathletes the basics of his story. He lost his arms from being electrocuted at work. He races triathlons ... because he can.
Over the years he has started his own foundation Don't Stop Living which carries a really good message I think.
My Kids and Hector
I drag my family to my races. At one point my kids saw Hector and what happened then was pretty interesting. It started with the normal, one of my kids shrieked, "mommy look he has no arms." Why kids can only say things like that at top volume is beyond me but it always happens. I told them the basics about Hector's story and they too were filled with questions and they peppered me with them the whole way home.
Q, mommy how does he swim. A. On his back, actually.
Q, how does he bike. A, I don't know actually. (I didn't know then, I now know that he uses a customized bike)
The questions continued on and off for days. How does he eat? How does he hold his water bottle? They were very curious and also inspired by his story. I think that his message of overcoming is very easy for kids to understand because the challenge of not having arms is easy for them to understand. My kids swim and they use their arms so how does he do it with no arms? Same with the bike. My kids haven't met him yet but when we all end up in the same spot I'm going to introduce them.
Hector is an Ironman
Last summer when Hector attempted his first IronMan event at Ironman NYC, I followed his progress online. When he finished it was amazing. I will admit that on days when I think I can't do something it does come into my mind, if Hector can do this with no arms then I can certainly get my little bike workout in today. He has actually completed 2 iron distance events. Take a second and think about that. I'm getting ready for my first Ironman event and I'm stressed about the swim with my full able body. But Hector does it.
About a month ago I went to a local triathlete club meeting. (Team Hammerheads... we're the coolest). Hector was there talking about his latest project, Hands for Baby Jameson. I picked up two posters for my kids. The next morning at breakfast you would have thought these things were made of gold. My kids fought over them and then each put one up in their rooms. To put it in perspective I also brought them autographed cards from Olympian Hunter Kemper last year and they could have cared less. But my kids are true fans of Hector's.
Hands for Baby Jameson
So now he's got a new project. He is raising money for a baby named Jameson in Spokane, Washington who was born with no arms or hands. He is doing this by biking from Miami, Florida to Spokane Washington. Yes ... Biking the whole way.
So he is of course, collecting money for the cause and the trip - you can donate here.
He is also looking to give talks at bike shops along the way so check out his itinerary and if you're on the route and can connect him to a local shop that would be fantastic. Hector's email is on his web page so if you have suggestions just reach out to him there or on Facebook.
Specifically he's looking in these cities.
*Ocala, FL - June 10th or 11th
*Macon, GA - June 13th
*Atlanta, GA - June 14th or 15th
*Birmingham, AL - June 16th
*Memphis, TN - June 18th
*Columbia, MO - June 22nd
*Kansas City, MO - June 23rd
*Denver, CO - June 28th, 29th, 30th
You can also like his Facebook page for the journey for more information about what he's up to.
So that's your daily inspiration from me. If you have a chance to see Hector as he makes his journey across the country do it.