The Tyler Junior College Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program hosted its second in-person Tri My Best Triathlon for special needs children on Saturday, April 30.
“Last year’s event was virtual, so everyone was excited to be back in person this year,” said Amanda Storer, TJC PTA professor and triathlon coordinator. “The kids were able to bike, run and participate in a water event by using adaptations and special equipment. We had about 30 participants of different abilities and 75 volunteers who signed up to participate.”
Storer said she first learned of the special triathlon when she volunteered at a similar event at Cook Children’s Hospital in Dallas.
“I wanted to bring it here, so we took a group of current students to volunteer in the Cook triathlon to get ideas and then planned our own event,” she said.
Participants in each event were assigned a student or therapist buddy and had about five other participants in their heat. Volunteers included faculty, students and alumni from TJC’s PTA, Wellness and Exercise Science and Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) programs, as well as students from the UT Tyler OT Bridge program, Kiddie College PTA program and community volunteers.
“The kids got the satisfaction of being able to complete an event that may have felt out of reach before,” she said. “We accommodated for any perceived limitation. The goal is for them to feel able-bodied at this triathlon.”
Scarlett Sanders (left) and her triathlon buddy, TJC physical therapist assistant student Kaili Harris of Longview, cross the finish line during Saturday’s Tri My Best Triathlon on the TJC main campus.
Storer said the event was not only a fun event for kids, it also allowed TJC students to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to practical use and to practice communicating and collaborating with other healthcare professionals.
“We delegated many responsibilities to our current students, so it was exciting to be able to watch them in action,” she said.
For more on the TJC Physical Therapist Assistant program, go to TJC.edu/PTA.