Pine Grove is the proud sponsor of Shirley Hartnett’s story.
This is my story for what it is worth. I have a son who has muscular dystrophy. If you know anything about the disease you know it means my son is dying every day of his life. It is a muscle wasting disease. Life expectancy is 18 years old, and he is 21 years old. My son has a great mind, probably better than mine, and I am a college professor of math and run physics workshops. It is so disheartening to see him gradually get weaker. He is wheelchair bound and needs help with all bathing, dressing…
One day as I was helping him, I realized what would he do if he had a healthy body. He would run, bike, and swim. Hence a triathlon (he also said dance and I’m doing that too). So this 56 year old woman who never participated in sports in her life (not even in high school or college, because I was the nerd) embarked on this journey. She didn’t know how to swim (only how not to drown), nor bike or run and was 100 pounds overweight. She didn’t own any sneakers, have a bike, or have any type workout gear. But I felt if my son could live each day with the determination to overcome his handicap, when each day was a new challenge, then I could overcome my insecurities and do my first triathlon.
Along the journey, I discovered a great team, I lost a lot of weight, and I became more fit. I discovered many things about myself but more importantly no one laughed at me, especially when I thought you could run in the winter in jeans or because I didn’t know how to disconnect the front wheel from your bike so it would fit in the car, no one said you can’t do this when I was the slowest on the hill, or when I got scared when we swam in a huge group or when I wore a wetsuit instead of a trisuit for the open water swim. In fact this community helped every step of the way. Like every athlete, ‘me an athlete’ sounds funny, I have wanted to quit. Pains, bruises, and even a concussion, but I look at my son and he can’t quit. So I can’t either. So when I cross the finish line, and I will, my son will be there living vicariously through me, but I realized, now that the race is a few weeks away, I am doing this for me. This training has given me a lot of benefits. This journey won’t end with this triathlon, and that is probably the greatest accomplishment, to change one’s whole mindset this late in life.
When I announced I was doing this all my family and friends were totally shocked. This was something totally outside anything they could conceive of me ever doing. I am also a cancer survivor. Caring for a terminally ill child can be very isolating. This training has been very empowering for me.
Shirley wrote this letter to the race director in 2012.
Saint Joseph’s Imaging Associates is the proud sponsor of Angele Carpenter’s story.
Associated Medical Professionals is the proud sponsor of Kara Zubrowski’s story
Kara Zubrowski has been a beacon of light in the Skaneateles community for the last two years. Her story is amazing, her power to ‘overcome’ is apparent and her ability to ‘inspire’ is infectious. A graduate of Skaneateles High School and now a first year teacher in the field of ESL (English as a Second Language), Kara has taken the courage to overcome and challenged herself to be identified by her achievements. Four years ago, Kara was struggling with where she was personally. At 240 pounds, she new it was time to do something with her life and reverse the trends to get out of the rut she was in.
Johnston Paper is the proud sponsor of Kris May’s story
There are few people, that you can say changed the course of your life. Kris May was one of those for me. In 2000, Kris approached me about strength training his two oldest children, as well as his wife and himself. It was that connection that completely changed the course of my life, redirected my professional career to the path it has taken, enabled me to find the sport of triathlon and has permitted me the opportunity to be the race director for the Gillie Girl Sprint Triathlon.
Kris and his brother’s story is one that has greatly inspired me and sadly I reflect on this, as a tribute to the life of Kris May. Kris and his brother Mike lost both their parents at a young age. Their father passed from a heart condition and mother from breast cancer. Taking over the family business at relatively young ages, the two had to become street wise quickly. With little formal education (an associates degree between the two), the pair have grown Johnston Paper to the point where it does in two days, what it did in a year. Johnston Paper has grown to be an 80 million dollar company serving the paper, cleaning and chemical needs of businesses all over the northeast, by focusing on providing the best service to their customers.
Both Kris and Mike have lived with a tenacity to reach new goals, achieve great things, make the sacrifices in life to achieve greatness. With an understanding of their drive, it’s now wonder they have had such phenomenal support from the business community. While their passion has been their business, like the sport of triathlon, its the accomplishments of the daily grind that create greatness.
Johnston Paper has been one of our top tier sponsors since the inception of the Gillie Girl Sprint Triathlon. JP was the first sponsor to the table when I proposed the race. This past year, Kris May lost his life to liver and colon cancer. I have had the pleasure of watching Kris and his wife Donna raise their three children, David, Ryan and Megan. Kris, thanks for the support, the wisdom and the inspiration.
Eric Prager / Gillie Girl Race Director
We thank all of our sponsors for their gracious support and making a difference!