Friday, September 12, 2014

Kona Project Update: "Racing Under a Ballou Sky"

Ballou Skies Tri Team in 2012

I've played sports competitively my entire life and have been fortunate to have done it at some pretty high levels.  Triathlon tests my mind, spirit, and body more than any other sport I've done.  If you've ever experienced a triathlon as a competitor, you know what I'm talking about.  If you've ever experienced a triathlon as a spectator, especially an Ironman, you have seen the triathletes that embody the belief, "anything is possible."  It can be very inspiring!

Midnight finish at Ironman Lake Placid

For me, triathlon has always been more than training and racing, and after 3 years on the Ballou Skies triathlon team, I am still excited about being a part of their mission.  Ballou Skies is a nonprofit that raises awareness and funds for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) research.  DMD is a degenerative muscle disorder that affects all muscles in the body, including the heart.  This debilitating disease affects young boys and leaves them confined to a mechanical wheelchair with a life expectancy in the early 20's. 

Ryan Ballou is a fellow Pittsburgher and has lived his life with DMD.  He was diagnosed at age 5, but at the age of 27 has reached "Rock Star" status because of his independence, courage, and leadership.  Years ago, Ryan's father, Ty Ballou, started Ballou Skies and partnered with the heart clinic at Ohio State University.  Together, Ryan, Ty, and the team of doctors at the Ohio State clinic have made tremendous, almost miraculous, strides towards a treatment for DMD.  To view the amazing progress and great passion for finding a cure, go to and view the short 8 minute youtube video.  It is very inspiring!

From Left: Dr. Jill Rafael-Fortney, Ty Ballou,
Ryan Ballou (seated), Dr. Subha Raman, me, and Luke (age 1)

As a member of the Ballou Skies Team and a Kona qualifier, I am starting a campaign to encourage donations to Ballou Skies and the work being done at the Ohio State clinic.  You may choose to make a flat donation at prior to my race in Kona, or you may choose to donate a specific dollar amount for each person I finish ahead of on October 11th.  There will be about 2000 competitors, and I hope to have a good race breaking the 10 hour mark, but understand the unique challenges the Big Island presents making this a formidable goal.  I will wear my Ballou Skies uniform with great pride knowing my efforts are helping boys with DMD.

If you find it possible to make a donation at, please put "Go Ben!" as a message to the seller when you finalize your donation.  I've made my own $10 donation to kick-off the campaign.

Until there's a cure...Ballou Skies!

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