Goshen News, Goshen, IN

July 14, 2013

YOUTH SPORTS: All about the kids

Kerry’s Kids Try-Athlon attracts 350 youths for great local cause

By DAVID VANTRESS
THE GOSHEN NEWS

ELKHART — It’s a few minutes after 10 a.m. on a warm summer Saturday in Goshen, and Robert Davies of the Goshen Parks and Recreation Department is standing in the middle of Plymouth Avenue.

But all is well: Davies is directing bicyclists participating in the Kerry’s Kids Try-Athlon, a triathlon on a kid’s scale now in its ninth year.

The event consists of a 1.2 mile bike course; a 25-meter swim course for ages 5-12 (75 meters for ages 13-18); and a half mile run for ages 5-12 (3.1 miles for ages 13-18).

Davies was assisting with the event for the first time, helping cyclists stay on track as they came off Plymouth Avenue and headed for the finish line.

“Keep going! You’re doing great!” Davies hollered out to one youth making the turn into Shanklin Park.

Davies, an assistant director of recreation programs, also works with some of the city’s sports camps, said he was enjoying being out on Plymouth Avenue working with the kids.

“You give them an encouraging word as they come by,” he said, waving at a little girl on a pink bike with training wheels as she rolled by.

Tonya Heyde, Goshen recreation supervisor, said about 350 kids participated in this year’s event. That number is on par with recent years, Heyde said.

For Heyde, the best part of the event is being at the finish line for the run when the kids arrive.

“It’s a fantastic environment,” Heyde said. “Lots of smiles, lots of pictures, lots of parents cheering.”   

At the pool, Morgan Cross, 7, of Goshen, was waiting in line for her turn to swim 25 meters with her mother, Missy.

“The swim is my favorite,” Morgan said with a wide grin.

Chelsea Hickman, 8, of Middlebury, was also waiting for her turn to swim. It was her second straight year participating in the event.

“I had a lot of fun last year,” Chelsea said.

Stephanie Hickman, Chelsea’s mother, said the entire family does triathlons, so the Kids Try-Athlon is a good place to start.   

A bittersweet cause

The event benefits the Kerry Finnegan Rupright Foundation, named for Kerry Kathleen Rupright, who died in 2004 at 28. She left behind two small children, James Michael, then 4; and Zachary Thomas, age 2.

Kerry’s parents Rick and Marlene Finnigan, founded the organization to preserve he memory of Kerry for her children, according to the foundation’s website.

It’s a bittersweet proposition, Rick Finnegan said Saturday morning as he took a break from helping put on the event.

The group’s logo is on Kerry’s tombstone, Rick Finnegan said.

“We’re able to do a lot of things that help a lot of kids in Elkhart County,” Finnegan said.

Some of the groups helped by Kerry’s Kids include the Boys and Girls Club; Boy Scouts; the American Cancer Society; the American Red Cross; St. Jude Research Hospital; and the Lerner Theatre.

For more information, visit the foundation’s website at www.kerrys-kids.org.