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Care 2 Tri And Greg Simony, The Journey

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Care 2 Tri

Greg Simony

By Lalaena Gonzalez-Figueroa

Photography by Alan Rodriguez, AlanRphoto.com

 

“You don’t fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill, and maybe, if you work very hard, you get to the top…”
~Lance Armstrong

As a two-pack a day smoker and heavy drinker, Greg Simony knew he wasn’t living up to his full potential. A former collegiate athlete, he was competitive, driven. But he had lost his footing on the path to success, allowing addiction to cloud his vision and muddle his focus. A sobering experience changed all that and put him back on course. And as his addictive nature compelled him to pursue new highs, Greg rediscovered the joys of pushing his physical limits. He became a triathlete, challenging himself with a grueling regiment that reshaped his body and mind. Then, in his quest to explore his true abilities, he identified an exciting opportunity. “I wanted to do something bigger than myself,” he reflects. “I’ve always had an innate drive to motivate others, and realized I could to so in a really unique way.”

At a young age, Greg knew his mission was to help others. He just had to help himself, first. Once he was on his own path to wellness, he found a way to bring others along. Not everyone has the physical ability to turn their lives around, to sweat and struggle through the rigors of a triathlon. But Greg had energy and willpower to spare. He’d find a teammate, a partner who would have the opportunity to cross a finish line with him and to revel in the glory of the victory. To date over 50 disadvantaged individuals have raced with Greg and the number continues to climb.

“We all have disabilities,” asserts Greg. “It just so happens that some individuals’ are more apparent.” Such was the case with his first teammate, wheelchair-bound Nadia McKinnon. The duo trained for three months, Greg pushing Nadia in a special stroller. Her verbal communication was limited, but Nadia managed to get her point across from their first meeting. “I didn’t know if she liked me, if she wanted to be out there,” Greg recalls. “But when her mom tried to take her out of the jogger, she bit her. That’s when we realized we were on to something.” In May 2009 Nadia and Greg completed the 10K portion of the Tri-Miami, and he like his teammate, was hooked.

“This is my gift, my calling,” remarks Greg. “I know that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.”

There is a huge outpouring of people wanting to race with Care 2 Tri and managing the influx is challenging, but Greg is unwavering in his commitment.  Each teammate, each race, he says, is a new and rewarding experience. “I’ve never experienced an event where my teammate was unhappy,” he says. “Most of the time, they become incredibly peaceful.  It’s amazing.” In addition to teaming with Nadia for subsequent races, Greg has also competed with a paralyzed veteran, a brain trauma victim and an individual living with autism. What the world at large may consider impairments, he notes, are simply labels. “I don’t believe in labels,” he adds. “They give way to excuses.” 

Three years after completing his first team event, Greg founded Care 2 Tri. The non-profit organization reflects its leader’s lofty aspirations, with a current goal of completing 50 triathlons in 50 states in 50 days. Until then, Care 2 Tri is focused on smaller victories which include acquiring the equipment needed to safely partner teammates in swimming and biking portions of the races.

Greg’s underlying mission is simply to inspire others to pursue their own passions. “I want people to know, to believe, that they can change their own lives and make a difference in the lives of others,” he asserts. “I’m a voice for people who aren’t always heard, but what I do isn’t for everyone.” His message: “Take your passion and go beyond yourself. Anything is possible if you believe.”
 
Greg is penning a book about his journey, and looks forward to sharing his inspiring stories as a motivational speaker. He continues to train and compete with area teammates, changing lives with each event.

Care 2 Tri
309 39th Street
Bradenton, FL 34208
(941) 587.6526
care2tri@gmail.com
www.care2tri.org

Copyright © 2012 REAL Magazine
Links to this article are encouraged

Photography used under license from Alan Rodriguez, AlanRphoto.com
Photography Copyright © 2012 Alan Rodriguez, AlanRphoto.com

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