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Silver Linings… Gold Medals!

Date : 24 June 2013

"Optimism is the most important human trait, because it allows us to evolve our ideas, to improve our situation, and to hope for a better tomorrow.” ~ Seth Godin

Kevin Garwood and his son, Nicholas are one of life’s inspirations. When Nicholas was diagnosed with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy with spasticity, Nicholas’ father, Kevin gave up his job to devote time to his son. But he missed his sporty past and it wasn’t until Nicholas was 11, when he was sent a video of an American father competing in an Ironman with his disabled son, that he was inspired to take up competing with Nicholas himself. We talked to Kevin about his experiences and his motivation.

Kevin and Nicholas started competing together in 2009 and have since taken on some of SA’s toughest races. When they started,Nicholas enjoyed it so much that he was keen to take on more. Kevin explains: "Nicholas loves doing races and has come to learn that competing in an Ironman event is quite a prestigious title. We have enjoyed it so much and it has been great to overcome these challenges together.”

Kevin finds his strength and motivation from the joy that Nicholas gets from competing: "We did Ironman SA 2012 together in bad weather. During the swim, conditions became really bad. I stopped to see if Nicholas was alright and he told me, ‘Dad, I want to do the run.’ To do the run you have to finish the swim and the bike. With those words, I dug deep to finish the swim and then with a picture of his face in my mind and those words, there was no way that I was not going to make the bike cut off. We got to do the run and finish the race. This is just an illustration of how he motivates me.”

Kevin started out doing the events with Nicholas to give him the opportunity to be able to take part in experience that he would not have been able to, due to his physical condition. "Being able to see how he enjoys it keeps me motivated. To see the big smile on his face and the excitement and joy that it brings him is a big motivator. I have to admit that it also brings me joy.”

Everyone faces challenges on a daily basis, but nothing is ever achieved without core values and a belief that anything is possible. For Kevin, it’s about the love he has for his son: "I love my son and I love doing events with him. He is so appreciative and loves connecting with everyone and seeing him happy helps me maintain a positive outlook. My strong Christian beliefs also support me to focus on the good things.”

Of course, positivity is infectious, and Kevin’s attitudes have passed on to Nicholas: "Because I believe in him, he believes in himself. He is confident about his abilities and has confidence in himself. We haven’t bought him a power chair because I wanted him to push himself around, which he does now. He also has a ‘can do’ attitude regarding his schoolwork and pushes himself to do really well.

Completing the Ironman 2013 competition was incredible for Kevin and Nicholas. They had immense support the whole way round, which brought them in on a high emotionally: "We felt as if we’d won the race because of the huge support we received coming down the finishers’ chute. We were grateful that we did finish, especially having had two punctures. We were overwhelmed by the support and proud of our accomplishment.”

Doing events in different regions, has given Nicholas an opportunity to meet a lot of different people. On these travels he has seen how the landscape changes from one region to the other this has helped his education. He has also become quite competitive and has a strong desire to win: he has become an avid follower of triathlon and cycling. "We got the opportunity to do a bike ride with Chris Froome and he has become a huge supporter of Chris. We utilise every opportunity as a learning experience for him. This has broadened his knowledge and awareness of different situations and helped him develop an enquiring mind to ask many questions.”

This story is a great example of the power of positive thinking that we at Eveready support and believe in, whereby we can create our own happiness and achieve anything we put our minds to. Anyone can think of creative ways to solve problems and overcome obstacles, just like Kevin and Nicholas. We all have complete power to take control of our own mindset and attitude. We can all change the story we tell ourselves about a situation and change our lives, and the lives of the people around us, for the better.

Choose Positivity!

Kevin and Nicholas Garwood with Ronnie Schildknecht, the pro winner of Ironman 2013 who gave Nicholas his trophy.

Kevin and Nicholas Garwood with Ronnie Schildknecht, the pro winner of Ironman 2013 who gave Nicholas his trophy.