Texans introduce kids paratriathlon to celebrate young fan

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The Houston Texans will host its first kids paratriathlon Saturday and Sunday as part of the 10th anniversary of its usual triathlon festivities. The new addition to the event, presented by the Texas Children’s Hospital, is to celebrate a young fan, 12-year-old Tray Sarich.

Tray, who was born without a shinbone, participated in the Short Course of the Texans’ triathlon last year.

‘I have fun doing the triathlons,’ he said to USA TODAY Sports, adding that of swimming, cycling and running, he enjoys ‘all of them.’

“We’re always looking for ways to evolve as an organization and the Houston Texans Kids Triathlon is no different,” Adrienne Saxe, Houston Texans Director of Community Development, said in a statement. “Tray is amazing and his participation in last year’s race inspired us to expand the event so it’s even more accessible for kids of all abilities. We can’t wait to see him on the course this weekend.”

Tray’s mom, Debbie, adopted him from China when he was five years old. He walked on his knees before having surgery to remove his lower leg and he now walks and runs with a prosthesis. 

‘I think it’s very exciting for honestly all of parasports,’ Debbie, who has seven adopted children with disabilities, told USA TODAY Sports of the NFL team including a paratriathlon. ‘… We’re all about inclusion and participation and having these kids that play adaptive sports able to participate with their peers in any way possible.’

Tray will participate in the paratriathlon this year and is training for the first time with a team, Select Tri, led by coach Amie Quinn. Tray is continuing to master swimming and running and he’s learning how to use a two-wheeled bicycle after previously using a hand-cycle.

‘They’ve been just super wonderful,’ Debbie said, noting how the coaches have gone out of their way to learn about best techniques for para-athletes. ‘They’re so supportive and so awesome and they’re really helping Tray in every part of his triathlon.’

‘The coaches and kids are pretty nice,’ Tray said. ‘Not pretty, they’re nice, actually.’

Debbie recalled the crowd of kids around Tray at the triathlon last year after a young girl worked up the courage to ask him what happened to his leg. Tray went on to tell her a story about how he lost his leg when he was swimming with sharks and how he likes to hop with the bunnies.

‘He will entertain people a little bit with it and help educate people,’ Debbie shared. ‘So that was just a really, really cute adorable experience.’

Debbie encourages all of her children to play sports and notices an improvement in their self-confidence. Tray also plays adaptive basketball and her other kids participate in swimming and adaptive tennis.

‘They have situations in school or elsewhere where kids may say things about their disabilities,’ she said, ‘but I’ve taught them to not be so focused on the things that other people say, but to be focused on all that they can and do accomplish. Each of them are very proud of their athletic accomplishments. … It helps them discover that they are good at things and it helps them have a purpose and something to aim for and goals in life. So yeah, it’s been very positive.’

This post appeared first on USA TODAY