Published: 2011-06-20 09:18:05
Author: Jerry Davich
For 28 straight years, Paul Sommer has competed in dozens of triathlons, mini-triathlons, and even two Ironman competitions. So taking part in next month’s sprint triathlon in Valparaiso is not earth-shattering news, or even news for this column space.
But when I found out the 49-year-old podiatrist will be competing in that event while hauling around a 10-year-old special needs boy, it certainly caught my attention.
The Valparaiso youngster, Kyle Polhemus, has a severe form of muscular dystrophy, weighs 75 pounds, and has the mental capacity of a 5-year-old. Not to mention he’s highly allergic to bees and mosquitoes, and coming off an injury, which could be an additional challenge on July 16, the day of the race.
“We’re thrilled that he is doing this for our son,” said Kyle’s mother, Jill, as she helped her son during a barbecue at Sommer’s Valparaiso home. “We’re not worried at all about Kyle during the race. He’ll be in great hands.”
Sommer plans on pulling Kyle on a small raft through the quarter-mile swim part of the event, peddling him on a makeshift bicycle carrier for 12 miles, then running with him for 3 miles using a special carrier.
But Sommer isn’t doing this for newspaper notoriety, to pump up his ego, or to add to his already impressive list of athletic achievements. He’s doing it to raise money for needed upgrades at Kyle’s home, including a wheelchair lift for the family’s van, a ramp for their home, and a staircase elevator to carry Kyle to another floor.