Family Of Newtown Victim Starts Triathlon Program

Chase Kowalski loved to run, bike and swim. His family is implementing a plan to support YMCA's triathlon program for kids.

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Chase Kowalski loved to run, bike and swim. His family is implementing a plan to support YMCA’s triathlon program for kids.

The summer before he was killed inside Sandy Hook Elementary School with 25 other students and staff, the seven year old competed in his first triathlon.

Wearing swim shoes and riding his red “Lightning McQueen” bicycle inspired by the speedy character from the movie “Cars,” Chase competed in a 20-yard swim, a half-mile ride and a third-of-a-mile run. He finished first in his age group.

Now Chase’s family has started a foundation in his memory that will help other children experience the thrill of the race.

“He swam and he biked and he ran every day, that was the essence of who he was,” his mother Rebecca said. “How could we not honor him in this way?”

The Chase Kowalski Memorial Fund is teaming with the Greater Waterbury YMCA to support that organization’s existing triathlon program for kids, and work to spread the program across the country.

Chase ran competitively for the first time when he was just 2½ years old, earning ribbons and Popsicles for his races. He ran three that day, begging his mother to let him do longer distances after each race. Rebecca Kowalski cried as she described how a five-year-old friend — wearing the race number 26 — went back to hold hands with Chase and help him cross the finish line after his first 400-yard race.

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