Month: April 2022

April 27, 2022

Inspiring Those with Disabilities to ‘Tri’

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., (April 27, 2022)

Greg Simony, lean and well-tanned, sat on a bench by the edge of Tampa Bay on a recent afternoon talking about a low point in his life 12 years ago.

 

“I was really trying to find my way,” he said. “I was fat. I was a drinker. But I discovered I could help myself by helping others.”

 

In fact, Simony wound up doing both, getting his life on a steady course by assisting people with a wide range of disabilities on a triathlon course.

In 2010, with no prior experience, he signed up and trained for a Half Ironman: a grueling 70.3 miles of swimming, biking and running, simply to prove – mostly to himself – he could achieve something beyond what anyone thought he was capable of.  Not only did he finish, Simony soon began entering triathlons and added an admirable twist – helping disabled children and adults feel the same thrill of competition he did.

 

Through his first project, Care2Tri, Simony helped disabled individuals compete in triathlons around the region and country. He has been a familiar face at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon, pulling and pushing children and adults alike through the racecourse. He soon became a recognized presence at triathlons nationwide. And on May 1 – after two years away from the sport – Simony will be back on the St. Anthony’s course assisting three individuals with special needs in his new project, Push2Inspire.

 

It all nearly came to an end two years ago, when he once again found himself overweight, out of shape and unsure how to proceed. He had helped others to persevere, but now he was struggling to find a way himself. “In late 2020, I was just so upset with the way things were going – the world didn’t make sense to me,” said Simony. 42. “I was up to 230 pounds from 175. I had failed so many times over the past few years trying to get back into triathlons. So, I finally decided to do something about it.”

 

His second wife, Kassandra, had no doubt he would succeed, because he drew motivation from helping others in need.

“He has one of the biggest hearts I have ever seen,” she said. “He truly is driven by the people he helps to compete. They are the reason he gets up to train at 4 a.m., because he feels, ‘I’ve got to do this for them.’”

In fact, Simony had already done something genuinely amazing. He was well attuned to the challenges of special needs individuals growing up in Michigan. His mother had been a para-educator in the school system, helping children with various disabilities to allow them to receive a mainstream education.

 

Now fast-forward to 2005. Soon after getting married for the first time, he and his wife were watching a televised Ironman competition from Hawaii. And he saw an emotionally charged, inspirational segment featuring the now late Dick Hoyt, swimming, wheeling and running with his disabled son, Rick, in the event.

 

“And I turned to her and said, ‘You know what, I’m going to do that one day,’ and she thought I was crazy – and part of me agreed with her,” he recalled. “I was completely out of shape. I ate at all hours and drank too much. And she said, ‘Yeah, I’m sure you will.’ She had every reason to think I wouldn’t, but there’s a part of me always wants to take on a challenge – no matter how outlandish it might seem to others.”

 

So, he did. After the couple moved to the Bradenton area around 2010, Simony followed through with his vow to compete in the Miami Half Ironman event. He completed it on sheer willpower, and was hooked. But he wanted others to feel that sense of boundary-pushing achievement as well. While pursuing a master’s degree in mental health counseling, he met a woman who suggested he race with her special-needs daughter.

 

Simony connected with the teenager named Nadia, who suffered from cerebral palsy and other intellectual disabilities, and ran while pushing her in a rolling “jogger” to get a sense of whether it would work. The child said virtually nothing, and he couldn’t tell whether the activity was enjoyable for her or not. But the next time, she couldn’t wait to see him, and Nadia became his first disabled racing partner.

 

That spurred him to continue finding other disabled individuals with whom to compete in triathlons, and he soon formed Care2Tri to continue his assisted-racing pursuits. He gained widespread attention when a national story aired about him in 2012, and people started emailing Care2Tri to ask Simony to assist individuals with disabilities – as young as 6 and as old as 60.

 

But soon, a personal setback derailed his dream.

 

He went through a divorce and it took a toll. “Mentally, I just cracked, and I needed a break – I couldn’t race anymore,” he said.

Instead, he returned to Michigan to be close to his daughter, leaving Care2Tri to a couple that eventually changed the name of the business. In time, he found his bearings with a new job and a new wife – he married Kassandra five years ago. The couple relocated to the Bradenton-Sarasota area. Yet every week, he flew to Michigan to visit his daughter for several days, then returned to Florida and his job – with triathlons no longer part of his life.

 

Being removed from competition during that time, Simony fell out of shape and watched his weight balloon back to 230 pounds. By November 2020, he felt himself at a new low point. But he slowly willed himself to make a change. And he created his new project, Push2Inspire, with the renewed dream of helping others experience the exhilaration of triathlon competition.

 

Nowadays, Simony isn’t only on a mission to help people with disabilities savor triathlons – as he will be doing again at St. Anthony’s. He hopes to send a message to anyone stuck in a negative cycle like he was. “Now, it’s truly about motivating the person at home,” he said. “This is how I do it – and I’ve done it twice in my life now. In my case, I involve people with special needs, but it’s really about trying to motivate anyone and showing them that they can make a change if they want to.”

 

For more information about Greg Simony’s project, visit Push2Inspire.com. He is always looking for more special needs individuals to help compete in triathlons.

 

Greg Simony: Greg Simony founded Push2Inspire to help those with disabilities enjoy the exhilaration of triathlon. He will swim, bike and run with three individuals at the St. Anthony’s Triathlon on Sunday, May 1.

 

GregSimony-Race: Greg Simony bikes with a disabled participant. He has been participating in triathlons since 2010.

April 26, 2022

Expect Traffic Delays from the 39th St. Anthony’s Triathlon

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., (April 25, 2022)

Athletes will swim, bike and run along St. Petersburg’s waterfront and through its scenic neighborhoods as they compete in the 39th St. Anthony’s Triathlon on Sunday, May 1, 2022. This year’s St. Anthony’s Triathlon will host approximately 3,000 athlete participants over the course of the weekend.

While there is notable excitement around the event, race officials want to remind residents that some streets will experience intermittent road closures and travel delays. The Olympic and Sprint distance races will follow the same routes as past years, and delays can be expected from approximately 7 a.m. to 2.p.m.

Most roads will be open, but traffic will be stopped at various times on several streets to accommodate the safety of both the athletes who will participate in the race and spectators who will watch from the sidelines. Local residents are encouraged to find alternate routes during race time.  All course information and maps can be found through the St. Anthony’s Triathlon website at https://SATriathlon.com/maps/.

Several sections of St. Petersburg roads and streets are expected to experience some closures. Those include:

  • Brightwaters Boulevard, which will be closed between Snell Isle Boulevard and the turnaround in the 1900 block of Brightwaters

  • Bayshore Drive, which will be closed between Seventh Avenue N and Fifth Avenue S
  • North Shore Drive NE and Coffee Pot Boulevard, which will be closed between Seventh and 22nd avenues N
  • Fifth Avenue S (Dali Blvd), which will be closed from First to Fourth streets
  • Pinellas Point Drive, which will be closed (drivers will be allowed to cross when safe to do so)

Some roads that will be subject to intermittent closures and delays include:

  • First Avenue S between 28th and First streets S
  • Fourth Street S between 18th Avenue S and Pinellas Point Drive
  • Portions of First, Third, Fourth and Sixth streets S between First Avenue S and Pinellas Point Drive
  • Snell Isle Bridge will have limited vehicle traffic allowed

Neighbors who would like to be a part of the weekend event action have several ways to join the fun. The St. Anthony’s Triathlon is open to all levels of athletes, from amateur to professional.  For kids and novice adults, the Meek & Mighty Triathlon occurs on Saturday, April 30; and the main Triathlon, for both Olympic and Sprint distance races, runs on May 1. To be close to the action but not in the races, many volunteer opportunities also are available. Register to compete in any of the St. Anthony’s Triathlon events or to volunteer at www.SATriathlon.com.

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