Children attending camp at UNC Charlotte Aug. 2 will get the chance to experience a duathlon for disabled children. The event will start around 9:30 a.m. at the UNCC track.
During the Olympic-style duathlon, an able-bodied athlete will be teamed with each child, who will ride in a “chariot.” The athlete will pull the child by bicycle for 15 minutes and on foot for 15 minutes.
Before the event’s creator, Mike Shemancik, can be sure the event will take place, however, he needs more children to participate in the race. So far only two children have signed up.
“The challenge has been that we have two strong commitments for two of the kids, but I feel like we need four to do the event. I have been reaching out to different Charlotte-based organizations, and I’m waiting to hear back from them,” he said.
Shemancik worked closely with the families who have already committed for the event, and he fears there is not enough time to make others feel comfortable enough with the event to allow their children to participate.
To engage the camp kids a little more, they will act as the pit crew and will change out the hitch between the chariot and the bicycle wheel so it can be pulled by hand.
“Not only does this event have its normal benefit, but now we get to have 50 camp kids come out and interact with the special-needs kids and relate to them,” Shemancik said.
Shemancik has participated in many triathlons while pulling Aiden, a young boy with cerebral palsy, and hopes to continue to grow events like the one he is holding at UNCC.
“It just keeps growing and growing. It could impact many kids, and one of the beauties of it is that it can be used for any kid that can’t do it on their own, regardless of their disability,” Shemancik said.
Besides hosting and participating in these types of events, Shemancik also is working with the College of Engineering at UNCC to develop a new chariot with a small motor to help those who are unable to pull it for long distances. That would allow more athletes to participate.
He also hopes to develop training programs for parents and families so such events can be more family-oriented. “The ideal is to have the parents doing it,” Shemancik said.
Shemancik can be contacted by email at MShemancik@uncc.edu.