Guest Post: I Tri’d, I Duo, and we THANK YOU! by Andrea Haefele

You’ll remember back in April when I gratefully opened my blog to the writing of my friend Andrea Haefele who shared her story of her daughter Bella and their life with autism (read the blog post here).  Bella would soon be competing in a du-athlon and her family had submitted a video in the FilmPossible Film Festival.Here is an update from Andrea.

Thank you to our good friends Heather and Royan for sharing their personal blogs with us. Through social media, we were able to share our family’s journey with special needs. Over 1000 people have read our story and have shared it with their own family and friends.

We were astounded by the number of views of Bella’s video, created by the very talented Jesse MacNevin. With his talent for photography and videography, he was able to capture the joy and spirit of our beautiful Bella. With your continuous daily support, Bella’s video finished #1 with the top number of votes and comments in the Bloorview Filmpossible contest, making her a top 10 finalist placing 4th overall.

filmpossibleEven though we did not win the contest, we have triumphed in the positive feedback, shared stories, and new contacts that we have made by sharing a glimpse of our lives. For the past 5 years, my husband and I have been on a difficult journey. First with wondering whether our baby was developing ‘normally’, then in testing to obtain a diagnosis for Bella, processing the fact that she was developmentally delayed and on the severe spectrum of Autism Spectrum Disorder, figuring out the best tools and therapies for her to achieve the best of her potential, and accepting our daughter for everything that she is. Needless to say, it has been toiling, both emotionally and physically, as well as incredibly rewarding to witness each step that she has taken. No one knows what the future will hold. We constantly wonder what Bella’s life will be like: Will she be able to get dressed on her own? Will she be able to write her name? Will she have friends who want to play with her at recess? Will she ever tell me that she loves me?
All we can do as parents is give our kids our best, and help them turn their cant’s into cans.

On Saturday, May 31st, Bella proved that she could DUO! She participated in the Family Fun Fit East End Kids KOS Duathlon , and proudly ran 50 metres, rode her bike for 600 metres, followed by another 100 metre run. To our family this race was not only an extension of our passion for physical activity, but a great step in our pursuit to bring visibility to disABILITY.

Group shotIf it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. This is what Bella has taught us. Since she was an infant, she was born with challenges. Despite these obstacles and the medical predictions and assumptions of what she would and would not be able to do, she has constantly surprised us with her abilities, from the time she took her first step to walk at the age of 2, to the first time she used her communication book to request for her favourite shaker.

When I stepped into the world as a parent of a child with special needs, I thought I would have to teach my child about the world. I thought I would have to focus my energy in teaching her how to sit quietly, play appropriately, and behave in a way that others would perceive as ‘normal’. I was wrong. It turns out I have to teach the world about my child.

By sharing our story, we hope that the next time you meet someone with special needs, you have a better understanding of that person’s struggles, but also of his or her accomplishments. We hope that, if you were to meet Bella, you would see a person who wants a friend to play with, who perseveres through challenges and never gives up, who radiates happiness with her ear-to-ear grin.

Bella and MomYes, “special parents” have it pretty rough. But, like all other parents, it’s not like we were given a choice. We just tough it through, each and every day, and have impressed ourselves with all that we can and continue to do… Just as Bella has impressed us with all that she can and will continue to do. I’m often asked how I find the strength to push on. The following quote provides the answer and truly embodies our family: “Children with special needs are not sent to special parents. Children with special needs make parents special.”


Guest Blog: Bringing Visibility to Disability by Andrea Haefele

Last year I was overjoyed to open my blog up to a post by my friend Andrea (read it here). She shared her personal story about her families mission to bring visibility to children and families living with disabilities in support of her daughter Bella who has severe Autism Spectrum Disorder. Bella was going against the odds and with families from the Birchmount Community Centre she would race her first Triathlon, she rocked it (read it here).  Andrea opened her heart in a way that was so real and authentic that I knew I had to share her story, I was touched by the strength of my friend and I knew you would be too.

A couple weeks ago Andrea reached out again. In the name of bringing awareness to children and families with disabilities Andrea has created a video of Bella’s triathlon experience and it is currently entered in the FilmPossible 2014 video contest given by the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and she needs your votes! Please read below to learn more about Andrea and Bella, share this post, or simply click here and vote!

It is with great honour that again I share my blog with Andrea and I know you will be inspired by her and her family as much as I have.

I Tri’d, I Duo

jesse1Your child has Global Developmental Delay.
She is cognitively at a 12-month-old level.
I can’t tell you if she’ll ever walk or talk.
She should be babbling by now.
Her behaviour and play are not age appropriate.
She’ll likely be living with you even in adulthood.
She’s at the severe end of the Autism Spectrum Disorder.

There it is.

This is who my daughter is. This is how the doctors, developmental pediatricians, neurologists, geneticists, and therapists describe Bella. Every day I strive to try. But when faced with these facts, I often feel like giving up. A lot of people ask me: “What keeps you going?”

I’m still not sure how to answer that question. But if I had to sum up my answer, it would be: “I just do.”

In 2008, I married the man of my dreams. Peter and I stood over a beach in Cozumel, Mexico and made a promise to one another: “I do,” we said. We pledged to be loyal, to love, respect, and support one another through life’s trials and journeys.

jesse5In 2009, our beautiful daughter Bella was born. As a new mother and father, we welcomed this perfect little baby into our lives and said: “We do.” We promised to be the best parents that we could be.

In 2012, we brought our second child into the world. Little Petie filled our household with play and laughter. Bella, Peter, and I welcomed him into our lives and said: “We do.” We promised to put our family first and to do whatever we could to ensure that our children are as happy as can be.

The words “I do” mean more than just going through the act of something. To our family, these words are the rewards of trying.

Bella has been able to learn to do things that we weren’t sure she would ever be able to do. She is constantly trying… and doing! Through hours of weight bearing exercises for her muscles, exchanging picture cards to teach her how to make requests, hand over hand modeling, all of our trying has allowed Bella to DO. Our little girl is growing up and can now walk independently and use the stairs. She can go into her communication book to tell us which toy she wants to play with. When greeted by others, she now makes eye contact and waves ‘hello!’

Bella has Global Developmental Delay.
She will learn at her own pace.
She enjoys walking, running, biking and swimming.
Her communication binder is her voice. This is how she talks.
Bella is at the severe end of the Autism Spectrum Disorder, and sees the world in a different way.
She enjoys listing to music in her headphones, and is fascinated by the sun and shadows.
Bella ends every day by giving a kiss to her mom, dad and brother.
She loves a big hug.

There it is. This is who my daughter is.

jesse4Last year, Bella and her friends from the Holland Bloorview Nursery School participated in their first race and completed a triathlon. Together, 5 families of children with special needs gathered to bring visibility to people living with a disability. We demonstrated that wheel chairs, leg braces, and a lack of words do not define our children. Not only do they have the ability to swim, bike and run, they also have the ability to achieve anything they want to.

Last year, Bella tri’d and this year she will duo! We will be participating in the Family Fun Fit East End Kids KOS Duathlon on Saturday, May 31, 2014, as well as the Walk Now for Autism Speaks Canada on Sunday June 8th, 2014. To complete the Duathlon, Bella will be running 50m, riding her bike for 600m, followed by another 100m run.

For our family, this is more than a race. It is part of our journey to show that there are no limits to what one can achieve.

Together, we do.


This year Andrea and her family are looking to reach even farther to share Bella’s journey and bring visibility to disability as they currently have a video entered in the FilmPossible 2014 video contest given by Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and they need your votes.

Please share your support by bringing visibility to all disabilities by voting for Bella’s video:

Help us spread Bella’s message that there are no limits to what one can achieve.  Please share the above link or this post and help to create awareness and bring visibility to disability.


$10,000 bike disappears from Ottawa event

A $10,000 Cervelo bike disappeared from a secured zone at The Canadian, an Ottawa Somersault race event, on Saturday, August 31st. This statement was all the buzz the following weeks – you may have seen the article in the Ottawa Citizen, I had seen posts around various cycling groups and shared by friends. Even this weekend while at GranFondo MANY cyclists commented to those nearby about the bike security and “Had ya heard about what happened in Ottawa?”

Well three weeks later I have learned that the bike belonged to someone I know and NOTHING has been done about it and no one has stepped up to help.

Sure, I get that the transition zone was manned by volunteers and I’m all about the volunteer love (we wouldn’t have our races without them), but these races pull in tons of dough and The Canadian hosted by Somersault isn’t a small race series, however, the race directors have pretty much told him they are not responsible and three weeks later he is still sans bike.

So what can we as athletes do?

1. Be aware. Look around! You’re likely already scoping out the other bikes, so why not do a little check to make sure that their bib matches their bike.

2.Speak Up. If you see someone doing something that looks suspicious or if you see an athlete pushing a bike with a different race number do something! Approach the athlete and make small talk around the bike, ask them how it rode no need to be confrontational, just see how they reply. You could get security if you’d rather not get personally involved. Or my favourite trick (yes I’ve done this before) take a photo with your phone of the suspicious encounter and hold on to it in case something like this is ever reported, and then obviously delete it if nothing happens.

3. Insure your bikes! Especially when you are racing a bike that is the price of a car, get insurance for it!

I’ve opened my blog to guest posts in the past, and of course am happy to share my blog friends with Adam in order to create awareness for his stolen bike in hopes that it might be found or someone – Cervelo – Somersault – Triathlon Canada – who knows who? might help.

The follow post is from Adam’s blog available at Target Trainers. You can connect with Adam through his blog or on twitter.

I’ve Been Violated & Need Your Help!

Is this what the sport of Triathlon has come to?

Here’s the story…

I attended The Canadian this weekend which is a huge event in Ottawa run by Somersault Events.  They had about 16 different events going on throughout the day some of which included the Iron & Half-Iron distances.  I competed in the Half-Iron Triathlon.

For those of you that are not familiar with the sport of triathlon, prior to the race, athletes (and athletes only) are permitted to enter the transition zone to set up their area for the race.  This area is supposed to be secure and safe for athletes to leave their belongings during the race.  No one, other than the athletes are permitted to enter this area at any time and there is usually security at the entrance and exit to this transition area.

I set up my transition area with all my equipment: biking shoes, running shoes, helmet, bike, sunglasses, nutrition…and left for the beginning of the race with my wetsuit down by the beach.

After the swim I ran to the transition zone, got changed, grabbed my bike and headed out for the 90km ride.

I returned to the transition zone from the bike and dropped off my helmet and bike, switched shoes and headed out on the half-marathon run.

The run took WAY longer than expected as I had some issues that is for another blog post.

When I returned to the transition zone after the run at the end of the race, I found my towels, wetsuit, helmet, shoes…but my bike was gone!  My bike was gone!

I searched the rest of the transition zone to see if maybe it was moved for some reason…nope.  I began to panic…I found the race director immediately.  Of course they couldn’t understand how this could happen and that it has never happened before.  Without putting it into words, they said they couldn’t be responsible for the bike.  They said perhaps someone took it accidentally and will return it once they realize.  That would mean there should be a left over bike at the end of the night (which there wasn’t).  They said they’d send out an email blast to all participants asking them to check if they took home the right bike.  They said they’d contact all bike shops and send them a photo of the bike in case it turns up.

So that’s what happened.

Here’s my issue…my bike has been stolen!
I now do not have the bike…to make it worse, the wheel set I had on the bike did not belong to me, I borrowed them from a friend!  There is a lot of value to the bike and now it needs to be replaced!

Here is what I don’t understand:
How could someone walk out with the wrong bike…I mean seriously?  You put your bike on/in your car and don’t notice that it’s not the bike you came with?  Why didn’t security match bikes to bib numbers as people left the transition zone after their race?  There were no left over bikes at the end of the night.  Why did this happen to me?

This is cruel, unfair, unjust, violating, deflating…I can go on and on.  I am greatly disturbed that in a sport with such camaraderie and honesty amongst participants, that this could happen.  I did some research only to learn the following:

This is becoming a problem.  I am not the first victim of this crime.  It seems that this has started happening even on the grand stage…at Ironman events and they are now photographing bikes with athletes so when they leave the race, they are taking the correct bike home with them.

What has this world come to?

I then thought…if a criminal really wanted to take a bike…they actually could quite easily.  All they need to do is purchase entry to a race (which gives them access to the transition zone and only costs a few hundred dollars – if that), scout out the transition zone, wait around, and when an athlete drops off the bike, walk into the transition zone, choose a bike and take it home.  A simple way to make thousands of dollars.

Somersault Events sent out an email blast last night asking people to check their equipment to ensure they didn’t accidentally to the wrong bike.  I have heard nothing as of yet.

This is a photo of my bike & here is the description:

  • Cervelo 2012 P2 Ultegra Carbon Black with red & white stripe
  • Xlab Sonic Wing
  • Xlab Gorilla cages on the back
  • Garmin quick release mount on aerobars
  • Garmin cadence/speed sensor
  • Speedplay Light Action Pedals
  • Xlab mini bag on frame
  • Cobb V Flow Plus Saddle
  • Progile Design AeroBottle with mount
  • Front wheel: Zipp 808
  • Back wheel: Zipp 1080 with PowerTap

If you come across it, please let me know.  I really appreciate all the support and help I’ve been receiving so far.

Thank you!