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New Year, New Hope – A Virtual Race benefiting Project Semicolon ; in Memory of Dylan

Register Now

Here’s the link to REGISTER for our Virtual Race: New Year, New Hope benefiting Project Semicolon ; in memory of Dylan.  Their story and more information on the “race” is below. Thank you all for participating!

#NewYearNewHopeRace #NewYearNewHope  #iTri4Dylan

#TriFecta #SwimBikeMom #SwimBikeGive

Join the Facebook Event Page to stay updated and share your stories!

The Story

Last August, one of our Tri-Fecta members, Cara, posted the most heart-wrenching comment (possibly ever) in our group. I cannot remember exactly what it said, but I remember the feeling I had once I read it, and of course, what had happened.

Cara was a “Swim Bike Mom” training for Augusta 70.3.  Her words in that post still, to this day give me chills, and make me grab my children and hug them tightly.

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In Cara’s Own Words:

On August 20, 2014 my world changed forever.  It was my oldest son’s 18th birthday and we were taking him to his first year at college.  I was excited, but sad at the thought of “losing” him to the world.  Then at 3:00, I received a call that no mother ever wants to receive.

My second son, Dylan, was found dead at our home by my mother-in-law and 3 other children. 

I did in fact lose a child that day, but not the way I thought. 

I don’t remember much of that day after that, other than reading the note that he left, “I just can’t make it in this world.”  

dylan2

Unlike other cases of suicide, there were no typical signs that Dylan was struggling. 

He had always been a very independent kid, and kept to himself.  Feelings were never easy for him.  His closest friends had no idea, other than his last tweet: “bye guys”. 

As a mom I felt like I had failed him.  How could a mom not know he was struggling so much?  The truth is, he didn’t want me to know – and he was very good at hiding.

Dylan was born on July 7, 1998 with a head full of frosted brown hair that had nurses from other floors coming down to take a look.  He was the only one of my five kids that slept better alone in his crib, rather than in my arms – and that independence was evident throughout his life. 

As an early teen, he struggled with anxiety – being around people was very hard for him (he had even had panic attacks).  He was a “gamer” and found his way to online gaming and a group of friends.  I made sure I “met” them in their Skype sessions.  I knew all their names and personalities.  This was where he felt comfortable.  This was where he drew his “power”. 

Our family has since identified the power symbol that is common on electronics as a representation of Dylan. [*which is on the medal for the race!]

Depression and suicidal thoughts are not always “visible.”

cara22

Sometimes those struggling with depression are very smart at hiding their problems, and do not know where to turn for help.  According to the CDC, in 2013 (the most recent year for full statistics), 41,149 suicides were reported making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans.  “In that year, someone in the country died by suicide every 12.8 minutes.”  But for every suicide that was completed that year, there were 12 people that harmed themselves.  That means that in 2013, about 650,000 Americans were so hopeless, they thought death was the only option (Source: www.afsp.org).

But there is hope. And that message needs to be heard. 

Project Semicolon is a global non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and love for those who are struggling with mental illness, suicide, addiction and self-injury. Project Semicolon exists to encourage, love and inspire.” (www.projectsemicolon.org)

The semicolon “;” is used by writers where they thought of stopping a sentence, but made the choice to continue on.  This symbol is being used by people all over the world to show that at one point, they thought they were at the end, but made the choice to keep going. 

This is a message of hope to all those that are struggling in silence, and maybe, they will gain the courage they need to reach out. 

We do have the POWER to share this hope.  Please join me in being that message to the world!

This is a New Year.  This is New Hope.

Love, Cara
#iTri4Dylan

Moving Forward…

A few weeks after Dylan’s death, Cara inspired us all by continuing to train for Ironman 70.3 Augusta, with her goal to complete it in Dylan’s memory and honor.

Post after post in Tri-Fecta exhibited Cara’s strength, and the support of our “Army”:

“It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I couldn’t tell if it was sweat or tears running down my face. It felt good to breathe hard going up the hills… Its been hard to breathe most times. Funny thing… Facebook is asking me to tag someone in the upper part of the picture where there is a bright spot by the tree. He must’ve been watching. And Facebook knows everything. ‪#‎itri4dylan‬”

cara

She even raced in smaller races leading up to Augusta, doing the unthinkable amazing feat, despite her pain.

“Friends… Getting out of bed this morning took everything I had. I definitely had a different perspective than any race before. I still feel like my body weighs 1000 pounds and I haven’t eaten much in the last week … Forget about race day nutrition. But I did it. My body was ready even if my mind was not.  #itry4dylan.”

cara1

And then she headed to Ironman 70.3 Augusta, posting this:

“Thank you everyone for your support. I wouldn’t be here without it. My definition of success has changed, along with everything else in life. Previously I would‘ve been hung up on how well I did compared to my peers. Now, just being here and being part of the experience of an Ironman 70.3 has been surreal, and I am grateful. I have an odd sense of calm today as we are driving to the event. Does finishing matter? Yes. I want to finish. Will I be upset if I don’t? Not really, because it is definitely not the worst thing that could happen in life. I am here today FOR Dylan, not in spite of the events. Every mile is in memory of those Dylan traveled and for those he will not. #‎itri4dylan‬”

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And she did it.

I, along with many, many others in our Army was there to see her finish what she started—her first half Ironman–in Dylan’s memory.

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We were all inspired.

Cara shared in our group in these posts:

“I don’t care how old you are, getting to stand on a podium feels awesome. So lucky and proud to race with so many beautiful women in the pouring rain today. I think there were 2 women in their 70s and 1 that was 81! I hope I am still able when I’m that age! Got beat for first place overall by a 13 year old! (1st in age group). I’m not saying all this to brag (well maybe a little) but more to let everyone know that it is possible to get up from some really bad things and move forward. You just have to. And having some really special, supportive people to run up to and celebrate with makes all the difference. #itri4dylan”

cara3

“This is the result of 2015. My goal was to complete the 2015 FIT family series (6 sprint triathlons over 3 months ), and I actually won. Not because I’m speedy, but because I “just kept moving forward”… Threw in the Columbus Half, and Hot Chocolate 15k too. Next year, I’m tackling another half ironman right here in Ohio! Here’s hoping my body cooperates (yes I did buy the insurance! ). 

I don’t do this to “show off.” I do it to let everyone know that you can overcome anything as long as you keep reaching for goals. It’s not been easy, but triathlon is what has kept me sane.” 

cara5

 

How We Can Change the World

And now, the grief is by no means gone or lighter, but Cara continues to shine as an inspiration to all of us.  She was a fantastic ambassador for our sport and Swim Bike Mom in 2015, and will always be one of the brightest lights I know.  This sport is truly a wonderful sport.  The people?  Well, they are even more amazing.

We love you, Cara and Dylan.

It is our honor and privilege to hold our second Virtual Race in your honor, in Dylan’s Memory and benefiting Project Semicolon.

The Charity

PROJECT SEMICOLON IS A GLOBAL NON-PROFIT MOVEMENT DEDICATED TO PRESENTING HOPE AND LOVE FOR THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL ILLNESS, SUICIDE, ADDICTION AND SELF-INJURY. PROJECT SEMICOLON EXISTS TO ENCOURAGE, LOVE AND INSPIRE.

The Virtual Race

What: New Year; New Hope Virtual Race – Any k!

Who:  You!

When:  Friday, January 16th-18th (MLK Weekend)

Where: Wherever you are!

How Far:  You choose your distance!  1 mile, 5k, 10k, Any k

Why: For Cara and Dylan and benefiting Project Semicolon

dylan

Register here.

We will donate a portion of each registration fee to Suicide Prevention–specifically the organization, Project Semicolon. The amount will depend on how many participants register for the race, after medals and t-shirts and shipping are handled. We will take care of all processing fees.  We will announce the final amount in the donation and results post after the race.  See here for our December Virtual Race, where we raised $4133 for ALS.

medal proof

Guaranteed Registration Deadline:   January 8th (for t-shirt and medal); registration allowed until January 16th.

Race Swag: If you register by January 8th, you’re guaranteed to receive a race t-shirt in your size (chosen at Check-Out).  Registration will stay open until Friday, January 16th, but t-shirts and medals are not guaranteed if registration is after the 8th of January.

Donations will still be sent on all race registrations (even after the deadline). 

Entry Fee:  $35 ($30 plus $5 shipping)

If you’d like to donate an additional amount to Project Semicolon, please do so here – donations will be added to your cart at checkout.  All additional donations go directly to the charity.

Get Your Medal:
After the “race,” we will post on this blog (or in the event on Facebook) where to email your results. You will have a chance to write or share what this race means to you and send in race pictures. You will received our one of a kind New Year; New Hope race medal and t-shirt, and your picture may featured on SwimBikeMom.com or other SBM social media.

Social Media:
Hashtag your “race photos” on social media with the tags:

#NewYearNewHopeRace #NewYearNewHope  #iTri4Dylan #TriFecta #SwimBikeMom #SwimBikeGive

*This is VERY important so we can share and find your love!

Race Sponsors: Coming Soon! (If you have a business who wants to sponsor, please direct them here. We will feature them on the blog and the back of the t-shirt).  The more sponsors we can get to offset the costs, the larger the proceeds we will donate.

Register Now

#NewYearNewHopeRace #NewYearNewHope  #iTri4Dylan

#TriFecta #SwimBikeMom #SwimBikeGive

15 Comments

  • Beth

    December 17, 2015 at 9:41 am

    This is truly very impactful and hits close to home. I will participate and will also be at the HIM in Ohio next summer and hope to meet Cara!

    Reply
  • Karen Okupniak

    December 17, 2015 at 10:07 am

    I’m so there! My family just lost my youngest brother to suicide, and I’ve thought of Cara and Dylan often over the past week since he died. The grace and strength that Cara has shown is inspiring to me, and I will do anything I can to help save another family this pain.

    Reply
  • Heather

    December 17, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I’m in! Having mental illness in my family and having worked in mental health settings for 10 years in my pre-kids career, this speaks to my heart in big ways!

    Reply
  • Linda

    December 17, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I read this on my lunch break and Cara- you are a true ambassador of this sport! I am in to do the run! I have lost 2 cousins to suicide and the courage and strength you have shown is so inspiring! Thank you Meredith for choosing this run for Cara and Dylan…

    Reply
  • Jennifer

    December 18, 2015 at 8:44 am

    Cara, I will be doing this race for you, your family, and to honor your son and support the semi-colon project. I have four daughters, two that have severe anxiety and depression. One has attempted suicide twice and the other hospitalized twice for complete breakdowns. They are 16yo and 18 yo but their journeys began at 12 yo and 13 yo. They are doing better but still continue to have lows and those lows are frightening. With the exception of the 16yo as she is too young still, we all have semicolons tattooed on our wrists to remind us of how far my girls have come, and as a mental health conversation starter for those that don’t know the significance of the semicolon. It opens a dialogue about mental health so we can educate the people we come in contact with daily. We need to end the stigma and fear. Meredith, thank you for this race to honor those no longer here and support those still fighting.

    Reply
  • Kerry @cookcleanrundream.blogspot.com

    December 22, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Twice in one day (me commenting that is). I actually had to dig back to find this post. I am a typical type A personality and yet last year I began to struggle with some bad anxiety. For someone who’s successful and driven it’s like people think it’s just “silly” or made up. As much as I can’t explain it and can’t always identify what triggers it, it’s scary. It’s driving yourself to instacare and pulling over on the side of the road enroute because you feel like you’re about to have a heart attack. Plus I have a brother that struggles with severe depression and suicidal thoughts. I have a semi colon tattoo and it’s my FAVORITE. I’ll log in later and register. But thank you Meredith for choosing this and raising awareness. When will you be adding to your tattoo collection??

    Reply
  • Emily

    December 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I am in. Last October my last phone call saved my life. I was on the edge of a bridge. I had planned watched traffic figured out the least amount of traffic for about a month. I could not go on. My marriage was ending i was in a job i hated i needed help. I called to say goodbye and the rest is history. I am the person who always held it together and did everything. I always smiled never cried etc. i just dealt with the pain.

    Reply
  • Johanne Kenney

    January 17, 2016 at 11:02 pm

    Completed my 5 k virtual run this weekend. Having lost a brother to suicide when I was 18 gives me a tiny window into your experience. We are all unfinished. We are all alone, even when in the middle of a crowd. I was supposed to do the run with two new ‘friends’, but they canceled, so I went ahead on my own. It’s all a private journey anyway, isn’t? Take care. Keep turning the pages to your story.

    Reply

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