Disabilities without boundaries. Team Ladybugs bounce back after Bermuda crash.
Hi, I’m Stephan and my daughter Chloe, a beautiful 13 year old girl, has severe disabilities from Cerebral Palsy. We live in Warwickshire, England and have been racing in running and triathlon events for the last 9 years.
We've competed in three ITU World Series events – Leeds and Hamburg in 2018 and the MS Amlin World Triathlon in Bermuda in April 2019.
You may wonder how we race?
I swim and pull Chloe in a specially designed kayak, I bike with her on our adapted bike, towing her special wheelchair, and I run while pushing her in the same chair.
Our race times have been good - don't mind if I blow my own horn here! Our fastest half marathon was in Manchester last year which we completed in 1h 43m 35s and what great support we had from spectators and fellow runners, it was a race to remember!
We race all types of events ranging from 5k, 10k, half marathons, duathlons and triathlons. With more than 70 races under our belt in 2018 alone, this is our life!
April 2019 in Bermuda was our first DNF (did not finish) since we started racing years ago.
Our only DNF
Team Ladybugs' customised bike and wheelchair combination went out of control after a puncture during the MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda. The bike went from under me; it went one way and Chloe's racing chair turned the other way. Chloe's competition wheelchair and bike, which cost $18,000, is a write-off. With me it's safety first. Chloe's chair has built-in airbags and other safety measures to protect her in unexpected situations like this.
I have some broken ribs while luckily Chloe suffered minor facial injuries and smiled through what Bermudians call 'road rash'. For the injuries we have, compared to the damage that has been done to the bike and chair, it’s quite remarkable how we didn’t get more injuries. The evening of the race Chloe went for a walk around the hotel with her mum in her everyday wheelchair and tried to join in the dancing at the athletes after-race party!
We would just like to say a big thank you to everybody in Bermuda. Everywhere we went people have asked us questions ... it’s been an absolutely amazing adventure for us. I’m so glad we came. The island is so welcoming.
Courageous Chloe is undeterred by the accident and wants to keep racing. She keeps saying, ‘Dad, Dad, race. Dada go’! Sadly, we won't be able to race again until we replace the bike and her chair. We intend to keep racing, it's Chloe's life.
Why we do it
Our mission is to raise awareness for severely disabled people so that they can race in events safely with the right equipment, to experience the excitement of participation. We help other families take part in events and we personally fund all of our equipment. We receive no funding from national sporting bodies because of our very specialised needs, and we lack the high profile races that attract media coverage.
I’m sometimes asked, “Why bother? She doesn’t get anything from it”.
Chloe really does benefit from the racing, she feels the excitement of taking part, the sensory feeling, the stimulation and feeling part of society, it also helps to reduce her anxiety and depression, just because she can’t shout it out, we can see in her smile and her facial expressions just how much she benefits from the activity.
It is a wonderful feeling knowing we have made a difference in Chloe and other people’s lives.
Chloe has a passion for the sport, the racing, the training, the speed and the outdoors. It is her life. Regardless of the time or the weather, she asks to go out in her racing chair DD1 (Daddy, Daughter One) as she calls it. She just wants to be out, and it warms our hearts that after every outing she comes home singing and smiling.
Bermuda, we can't thank you enough!
We saw the warmth of Bermuda's people during the MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda on April 27th. Before the race, so many people asked us questions and wanted to know about what we do and why. People wanted to learn from us so that they may be able to help other families with severely disabled children who are courageous enough to travel and do events as a team. We were so welcomed and we can't thank you enough.
Since our accident there has been an outpouring of support from people wanting to help get us back on the road, we're touched by the kindness we've experienced. Several people have asked us to set up this GoFundMe page so that they can contribute to Chloe's new racing chair. It's unexpected and heart warming, thank you.
We're humbled, we’d love your help and would be most grateful.
The easy option would be to stay at home, we don’t take the easy option, as our mottos are “Life’s too short not to!” and “Disabilities don’t need to have boundaries”.
Bermuda's Bernews - before the race:
Bermuda's Royal Gazette - after the accident:
A very special thank you to Massachusetts General Hospital for sponsoring our trip to Bermuda, thanks to the Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club, the official event hotel for World Triathlon Bermuda for offering us accommodation, and to British Airways for helping us to transport our kit - they fly direct from London to Bermuda.
Steph, Di and Chloe
- Ceri Riihiluoma
- Mama Bermuda
- Karen Olson
- Ian Pilgrim