Congratulations to all the triathletes who completed the “Race 4 Chase” youth triathlon that took place on Aug. 12 at Ft. Adams Park in Newport. For six weeks this summer, 11 local children from 6 to 12 years old trained for the triathlon in a free program offered by Ocean Comunity YMCA’s Westerly branch. For six weeks the youngsters trained with swim coach Rayleen Larue and Westerly Y youth director Nicholas Austin in swimming, biking and athletic training in preparation for the event, which involved several other YMCAs. Thanks to many local businesses, free healthy breakfast and lunch were offered to the children. The triathalon is named for Chase Kowalski, who lost his life at age 7 on Dec. 14, 2012 in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. According to the Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation website, Chase was known as an amazing son, brother and friend who loved sports of all kinds and had a competitive spirit. Among Chase’s favorite sports were baseball, auto racing, and running. He began running competitively at age 2 in track races. At age 6, he asked to be entered into his first triathlon — in his first-ever competition, he took on the field and won his age group. Chase was very proud of his accomplishment, sharing his success with friends and teachers and taking great care not to wash off his race number marked on his arms.
With the goal of capturing Chase’s competitive spirit and vitality, his family created a charity in his honor designed to focus on health and wellness for children and their families. The foundation has since pursued initiatives that encourage personal improvement, healthy lifestyles and strong families and communities. One of the events is the Race4Chase Kid’s Triathlon, which gives children the same opportunity to train and complete this challenging race and honor Chase at the same time. The triathlon program, designed to provide kids with a safe, healthy, non-competitive environment to discover the sport of triathlon, brings together kids from different backgrounds and teaches them how to adopt a healthy lifestyle, coaches them to develop a foundation of athletic skills, and inspires them to aim high in sports and in life.