It’s one thing to finish a triathlon when you’re only 8 years old, it’s a much bigger thing to do it pulling your disabled brother along with you for the entire journey. Yet Noah Aldrich did just that.
The 3rd-grader from Boise, Idaho completed his first triathlon this week with brother Lucas, 6, safely in tow every step of the way. Lucas was born with lissencephaly, a neurological condition that prevents him from talking, walking or moving without a wheelchair.
While the disorder typically inhibits Lucas from participating in sports, Noah wouldn’t let it stop them.
“I just wanted to do it with Lucas,” Noah tells Ellen’s Good News. “It was kind of hard.”
The brothers biked for three miles, swam 200 meters, and ran a mile in a little over 54 minutes. Noah pulled Lucas behind him in a cart and float for the first two parts, then pushed him in a stroller during the running portion at the end.
“The last part was hardest because I didn’t have very much energy,” Noah explains.
As mom Alissa observes, the crowd supporting them offered a morale boost. “It was pretty cute because we were all there cheering on the sidelines, and when Noah saw us he would pedal faster or stand up on his bike,” she comments. “He was bolstered by the support.”
Noah has been training for the triathlon since May when the director of a local YMCA pitched the idea to Alissa. Initially, the young boy could barely swim across the pool, but thanks to many lessons and practice with the organization, he was able to gain the strength and endurance necessary in just a couple months.
The brothers spend a lot of time together watching cartoons or playing household games like Legos, but this was something they’d never tackled.
“As a parent, it was probably one of the top special moments of our lives just to see the love between the boys, and for them to accomplish something that was truly unique,” Alissa says. “When you have a child with special needs, and they’re diagnosed with this condition, they’re unable to do most things. It was something we’d never thought Lucas would be able to do.”
Though Noah points out that Lucas is “a normal kid,” taking on such an adventure would not have been possible without his big brother’s help, and Alissa says his reaction at the end showed much gratitude.
“Lucas loved it,” she says. “He’s kind of a little thrill seeker anyway, and just being out and about and enjoying the fresh air. The thing I thought was really cool was at the end. We got done, and Noah was cooling down and drinking water. The whole time Lucas was just watching Noah and there was a twinkle in his eyes.”
Alissa is currently in the process of establishing a nonprofit organization called Lucas House, where kids who have life-limiting conditions can receive palliative services, such as pet therapy and aquatic therapy.
With such inspiration around her, it seems her dream is one step closer to reality, thanks to the energy and dedication of her sons.
“We’ve received calls and emails from people all around the world,” Alissa notes. “It’s a story of love and compassion and the goodness in humanity.”
You can find out more about Lucas House here.