Dad runs race carrying disabled daughter

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How far would a father go to show his love and devotion to his daughter? In the case of Rick Van Beek he went the entire distance of a triathlon while carrying his disabled daughter with him.

Rick Van Beek recently finished a triathlon while carrying his 13-year-old cerebral palsy-afflicted daughter Madison so that she could participate with him in the event. He pulled and pushed Madison (Maddy) with him through water and land until they both reached the finish line.

His amazing achievement of stamina and demonstration of love for his daughter Madison Beek has attracted media attention. The loving dad from Byron Center, Michigan has been dubbed the ‘father of the century’ for his touching efforts.

Born with cerebral palsy

13-year-old Madison Van Beek was born with cerebral palsy, which is an umbrella name for a set of disorders that affect brain and nervous system functions, such as motion, hearing and seeing. Madison cannot walk and talk and her father said that the day she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy two months after she was born was “…the worst day of our lives.”:

“She functions like a three-month-old, and one of the very few things that we know she enjoys is being outside, being in the water, feeling the breeze in her hair and in her face,” Van Beek said

There is currently no cure apart for cerebral palsy although treatment exists for sufferers to manage their conditions.

All for the love of Maddy

But you will be surprised to learn that this is not the first race the father and daughter team have participated in. Van Beek and Madison have been involved in more than 70 events, including half-marathons, triathlons and other outdoor races, as part of ‘Team Maddy’. Van Beek was motivated to give up smoking and lose weight after seeing how happy Madison was being outdoors, “I gave up smoking 2 packs a day and chewing a tin a day to be better, for Maddy. It has been a long road, with many bumps, but we are better.”

Van Beek and Madison have also been raising money and awareness for cerebral palsy charities. However, Van Beek does not want to take the credit for his efforts and cites Madison is his main inspiration and driving force:

“She is my heart and I am her legs, though someday she might not physically be able to be there with me, she will always be in my heart, quietly cheering me on.”

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Written by

Felicia Chin