Hometown heroes are inspired at 2015 Cleveland Triathlon

Special to The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Hometown heroes flooded the streets of Downtown Cleveland on Sunday for the 29th annual Cleveland Triathlon.

The winners of the headline Olympic race were two Greater Cleveland natives who have traveled the world but the true champions were the clients and families of the United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland.

For the last eight years the agency has used the race, which starts and finishes near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Voinovich Park on East 9th Street as a fundraiser. Using modified equipment, families swim, bike and run together in the event that not only raises money but spirits.

Six years ago, Willoughby native AJ Baucco competed in the Cleveland Triathlon as an amateur. He has spent the last five years competing as an Ironman professional. Saturday was his first return Cleveland race. He won with a time of 1:56:05.

“This is kind of a homecoming after racing all over the world,” Baucco said. “It means a lot to come back and do this race. It is also amazing to see these kids and families involved in the race. It is very motivating and it pushes me a little harder. Watching the families push the kids in the stroller carts was awesome. It is a great family event.”

Lakewood’s Katie Spotz was the female winner of the Olympic race with a time of 2:22.52. Spotz, who is also a regular Ironman participant, made worldwide headlines in 2010 when she set the world record for the youngest solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. This was only Spotz’s second Olympic length triathlon.

“Running a triathlon was on my bucket list that I made when I was 18,” Spotz said. “I also wanted to channel it into raising money for clean water.”

Spotz said she is just $500 away from her group’s $5,000 goal to provide clean water for two schools in South Africa. For more information, visit here website, katiespotz.com, where 100 percent of the funds go to the cause.

The Cerebral Palsy families also inspired Spotz.

“In each race there is point where you feel sorry for yourself and it is a reality check that there are so many other people that have challenges on a daily basis,” Spotz said. “It was so cool to see them run with the strollers and to see how happy they were to be on the race course.”

The highlight of the event was the cheers and smiles as each family team crossed the finish line. One of the loudest cheers came from Alex Lozano and Team Alex. This was Alex’s third race, but this year was extra special. Alex, who has Cerebral Palsy, challenged his autistic brother, Austin, and his brother Brandon to join him.

“I called out my brothers,” Alex said. “They did good.”

His mother was proud of the entire family.

“It was so inspiring to see them run together,” Debbie Lozano said. “We had over 30 family members come out at 7 a.m. to cheer them on.”

Team Rizzo has also been involved for the last three years.

“My six-year old daughter Julia loves the outdoors,” John Rizzo said. “So the training and the race are right up her alley. It is so inspirational watching her and the other kids participate and despite the odds stacked against them finish the race. It is a good check in with yourself that the things you think are important but really aren’t. It is about the kids and their smiles.”

Last year, Team Ethan and the friendship between Ethan Fairhurst and his classmate Rachel Prior inspired the community. This year, the team increased from 27 to 37 runners. Rachel and Ethan upgraded to the Super Sprint race.

“Because of her age, Rachel could have stayed in the kids race but she wanted a new challenge,” Ethan’s mother, Sarah Fairhurst said. “Being involved in the race has been an amazing experience. To go from being worried if Ethan would ever have friends to seeing the community rally around him, it is very overwhelming.”

UCP president and CEO Trish Otter said each year new families are inspired to join.

“It is contagious and they get a lot of support in our building,” Otter said. “They hear about it and start training. So on race day you see the families here with their kids being supported by the community. Seeing that support is the highlight of the day.”

Wadsworth’s Justin Crooks won the Super Sprint with a time of 44:45. It was Crooks’ third triathlon and second Super Sprint.

“It is so inspirational seeing people with Cerebral Palsy competing,” Crooks said. “If they can do it why not you. They give you so much energy. It was my first win and it was a lot of fun as it is a great charity to raise money for.”

Joshua Barry won the Sprint race with a time of 1:13:43 and Margaret McParland was the top female Sprint finisher with a time of 1:19:29.

Overall this year’s race had about 500 participants, with 120 being part of one of the UCP teams. Last year’s event, in conjunction with another event at the same time, raised over $175,000. The goal for this year’s event was $75,000, with the other event moved to the fall. Those wishing to learn more about UCP and how to get involved can visit their website.

This article was shared from Cleveland.com
By Zachary Dzurick on July 26, 2015

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Team Reed

Team Reed

Reed, who will be turning six years old soon, has been receiving therapy at UCP of Greater Cleveland for the last four and half years. However, this will be his family’s first time competing in the triathlon. It was Reed’s nanny, Kiley, who inspired Reed and his family to TRI. Kiley has been an avid triathlon participator and member of the UCP community. She has volunteered at past triathlons and has also interned at UCP of Greater Cleveland. She told Reed’s mother, Dana, about what an inspiring experience it is to be a part of the triathlon and got the ball rolling with paperwork and donations for Team Reed. Now Dana and Reed are training for the running portion of the sprint length race, and Kiley is preparing to push and pull Reed during the biking and swimming legs. As Dana and Reed participate in their first triathlon, Reed’s grandparents, aunt, cousins and two brothers will be there to cheer them on. When asked about what she would say to potential racers, Dana said that she would encourage them to remember to “believe in themselves and their abilities as we encourage the children to believe in themselves and their abilities.”

Are you inspired by Team Reed? If so, donate now to www.active.com/donate/teamucp2015.

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Meet the 2015 Teams of Team UCP!

It’s hard to believe that the Cleveland Triathlon is only five days away! UCP of Greater Cleveland would like to extend a huge “Thank you!” to all of our amazing teams. We appreciate the time, dedication and hard work it takes to participate in the Cleveland Triathlon and raise awareness and funds for UCP of Greater Cleveland.

It is not too late to support your favorite Team! Make a donation in their honor by clicking one of the pictures below:

Let’s Meet the teams!

Team Alex


Team Devan


Team Drew


Team Elsie


Team Ethan


Team Julia


Team Kenna


Team Larenas

Team Larenas

Team Logan


Team Madelyne

117 (2)_cropped

Team Reed

Team Reed photo

Team Rizzo


Team Tyler

Tyler 27

Be Inspired to Tri! at the Cleveland Triathlon on Sunday, July 26, 2015

at North Coast Harbor, Downtown Cleveland

TeamUCP Logo 1


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Team Julia

Team Julia

Ten-year-old Julia Minnick began receiving therapy services at UCP of Greater Cleveland when she was one and half years old. Shortly after beginning therapy, Julia’s her mother, Kristen, attended a UCP event where she heard someone speak about the idea to start a triathlon on behalf of UCP. The Minnick family immediately became enthusiastic about this event and continues to play a leading role. Up until two years ago, Kristen was the one who pushed and pulled Julia during the Sprint distance of the Cleveland Triathlon. Recently, however, it has been Dad, Jeff, racing with Julia. Jeff has really gotten into the spirit of the triathlon as he trains quite a bit for the swimming and running legs of the race. Kristen’s favorite memory of the race took place during the 1st year: the entire family joined in at the end of the race, picked up Julia, and crossed the finish line. The love, fun and supportive atmosphere during the race is the most important part to the Minnick family. Kristen remarks, “It is important to look at the bigger picture around the race and not at things like time-finishes. Racers always get so much more out of the day than they anticipate.” Julia definitely embraces this fun atmosphere. This was apparent when Kristen was racing with Julia and Julia began yelling “Faster! Faster!” Team Julia has always and will continue to help make the triathlon a wonderful event for all involved.

Are you inspired by Team Julia? If so, donate now to their fundraising page at www.active.com/donate/teamucp2015/TeamJulia2015.

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Team Madelyne

Team Madelyne

Vivacious little Madelyne has brought smiles to UCP since beginning therapy over eight years ago. After three years at UCP, Madelyne and her mother, Wendy, learned about the triathlon through word of mouth and by seeing posters that advertised the race. A sincere desire to raise money for UCP inspired them to participate in the triathlon, and their enthusiasm to participate has continued for five years. Many of Madelyne’s doctors, physical therapists and friends have been a part of Team Madelyne. Two years ago, Dr. Baird from Akron Children’s Hospital pulled Madelyne in the biking segment. Last year, Madelyne’s school therapist pushed and pulled Madelyne through the running and biking portions. Though Madelyne enjoys the whole triathlon experience, her favorite part is always crossing the finish line. This year, Madelyne will be doing the running and biking segments of the Super Sprint race with Ayah, who is the daughter of UCP of Greater Cleveland’s Director of Children’s Services, Intesar Taye. When Madelyne was asked what her advice would be to potential racers she said: “You can do it!” Madelyne’s bright personality and keen advice could inspire any potential racer to TRI!

Are you inspired by Team Madelyne? If so, donate now to their fundraising page at www.active.com/donate/teamucp2015/TeamMadelyne2015.

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  • Upcoming Events

    July  2015
    Events on July 13, 2015
    • New Employee Orientation

      Starts: 12:00 am, July 13, 2015

      Ends: 12:00 am, July 16, 2015

      Location: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

    Events on July 14, 2015
    • New Employee Orientation

      Starts: 12:00 am, July 13, 2015

      Ends: 12:00 am, July 16, 2015

      Location: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

    Events on July 15, 2015
    • New Employee Orientation

      Starts: 12:00 am, July 13, 2015

      Ends: 12:00 am, July 16, 2015

      Location: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

    Events on July 20, 2015
    • Board of Directors Meeting

      Starts: 4:00 pm, July 20, 2015

      Ends: 6:00 pm, July 20, 2015

      Location: United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Cleveland, 10011 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106, United States

    Events on July 26, 2015
    • Team UCP at the Cleveland Triathlon

      Starts: 5:30 am, July 26, 2015

      Ends: 12:00 pm, July 26, 2015

      Location: Voinovich BIcentennial Park, East 9th Street Pier, Cleveland, OH 44114, United States