By Kayla Bolnick
I was so fortunate to receive a grant from the GoHawkeye Foundation which allowed me to purchase a handcycle for triathlons and cycling. I’m excited and loving my new Top End Force RX.
“I have been so blessed by your help making this day come true. Today was my real maiden voyage on my Top End Force RX. I was able to take my handcycle out for a 10-mile ride at Portland International Raceway. What a blast it was and I’m super excited to get my training going for my next triathlon.”-Kayla Bolnick
Let’s reflect back on my journey to this amazing point in my life. I was born with a neural tube defect called Spina Bifida. Spina Bifida has had an impact on my life but that hasn’t stopped me. I may be in a wheelchair due to paralysis in my legs but I’m a very active and motivated person athletically.
From the young age of three my parents introduced me to wheelchair basketball, in primary school I was swimming and competing with the YMCA. I felt free in the water, there was no limits of the wheelchair. In middle and high school I added track, cross country and wheelchair basketball to my list of activities that I really enjoyed. During this time I also completed my first 10-mile race. In high school I participated in track, cross country and swimming. My high school even purchased an off road handcycle so that I may compete in cross country.
During my Junior year of high school I was invited to Challenged Athletes Foundation’s Triathlon camp and fell in love with a new sport. Triathlon was a sport that I was somewhat doing all ready but in separate pieces. I knew this was the direction I was meant to follow. That summer I went home and competed in my first triathlon with the support of my high school letting me borrow the off road cycle. I found my calling and knew once high school was over I wouldn’t have a handcycle to compete. So the search started to find a way to get a grant so that I may possibly keep training and competing in triathlons. This is when I found GoHawkeye and reached out for a grant. I was blessed with a grant to cover the additional amount of my handcycle that I needed to compete.
Since receiving my handcycle I have been getting familiar with the bike and training for my next competition. I started with some first hand experience lessons from Will Groulx (US Cycling Paralympian), Josh Sweeney (US Hockey, US Triathlete) and Kipp Wesslen. These three individuals are experienced cyclists that have or had top-end handcycles. This summer I had the opportunity to cycle at Portland International Raceway with these athletes and others with Adaptive Sports Northwest. With an hour on the track I could complete 12-16 miles. I was excited the first time to reach 20 miles per hour on my handcycle.
Next trainings, races and competitions I’m looking forward to include Challenged Athletes Foundation San Diego Triathlon Challenge (SDTC). I’ll be swimming miles in La Jolla Cove. Then I’ll head to a week long cycling training camp at the Chula Vista Elite training center. I’m hoping and know I’ll walk away with a lot of information on how to train successfully after the camp. My goal within the next year is to compete in my first cycling race, get several triathlons under my belt and maybe make it to the National Para triathlon race.
Thank you GoHawkeye for this incredible opportunity to continue on the path of being healthy and active.