REGION — Coordinated at marathon speed in about 30 days, the inaugural Team Hoyt San Diego fundraiser netted approximately $25,000 to help challenged athletes swim, bike, run.
The organization, launched last year with help from Del Mar residents Jim and Lisa Pathman, will use the proceeds to buy specialized equipment, fund scholarships and pay race fees.
The Pathmans have always been athletic and describe themselves as active.
“We actually met riding bikes at the beach on the boardwalk,” Jim said. “So when we found out we were having twin boys I was super excited.
“I went and bought these old Schwinn reproduction stingray bikes with the banana seats,” he added. “I bought those before they were born. I always thought it would be great if we could ride bikes together as a family.”
The Pathmans remain active, participating in six to seven triathlons and about a dozen other running races annually, but the boys never rode those two Schwinns.
Shane and Riley were born at 26 ½ weeks and weighed about one-and-a-half pounds each.
“I have picture with my wedding ring over their wrists as a bracelet, that’s how small they were,” Lisa said.
“We found out after they were born they had cerebral palsy,” Jim added. “Our lives kind of turned around for a couple of years. We didn’t know what to do.”
“They had compromised immune systems so we had to stay at home,” Lisa said. “We couldn’t do much. They had a lot of health issues. They were in and out of the hospital a lot. We were just kind of surviving.”
At the invitation of a friend, when the boys were about 3 years old, the family went to an event for the Challenged Athletes Foundation at La Jolla Cove.
“We got invited to do the kids run,” Jim said. “It was part of the Challenged Athletes triathlon. The boys were in walkers and it was very short — across the parking lot. But it did two things for us.
“It opened our eyes to see that there were going to be possibilities for our kids to be involved in sports and do things with other people,” he said. “There are other people like us.”
The other takeaway was a comment Shane made after the run.
“He said, ‘Well, this is a triathlon. We’re supposed to swim and bike now,’” Jim said. “And I thought, ‘Oh, how are we going to do that?’
“I told them next year we’ll do swim, bike and run,” he added. “Over that year we researched and tried to figure out if people do that. That’s when I first saw a video of Rick and Dick Hoyt.”
The father-and-son team from New England has participated in more than 1,000 races since 1977, with Dick pushing or pulling his son, Rick, who was diagnosed at birth with cerebral palsy.
Through emails, Dick provided Jim with the information he needed. As promised, when Shane and Riley were 4, the family began competing in triathlons.
“When we first started people didn’t know what we were doing and so it was very difficult,” Jim said. “There were even race directors that wouldn’t let us compete. But I decided I wasn’t going to let that stop me. So I would just show up and do it and not ask for help from the race directors.”
Two years later, when Shane and Riley were about 6, the Pathmans met the Hoyts for the first time in person when they were guest speakers at Sage Canyon Elementary School, where Lisa is a second-grade teacher.
The friendship continued through the years and in 2012, Dick Hoyt invited Jim to participate with him in his favorite race, the Boston Marathon. Shane and Riley were too young to join their father, but he was allowed to push them across the finish line.
The Hoyts decided 2013 would be the last year they would participate in the Boston Marathon, so the Pathmans once again flew east.
Jim crossed the finished line nine minutes before the bombs went off. The Hoyts were stuck a few miles back.
That year Dick allowed the Pathmans to start one of three new Team Hoyt chapters in the country.
The other two are based in New England and Virginia.
“Team Hoyt San Diego is all about inclusion in everyday activities,” Jim said. “We take disabled athletes with us in running races and triathlons, and we support scholarships for athletic devices, race fees and chairs, which can run from $900 to $6,000.”
The organization currently includes 10 athletes who compete and about 40 volunteers who help push. Torrey Pines High School, where Shane and Riley are currently sophomores, started a Team Hoyt San Diego Club to help raise money for the group.
Members Margaret and Andreana Izotov, Delaney Douglas and Hayden Hollen volunteered to help out at the fundraiser, which included dinner, a silent auction and a presentation by Jim.
The Pathmans recently completed their most challenging race, the La Jolla Cove San Diego Triathlon Challenge, which took seven hours and 15 minutes and included 44 miles of biking, a 10-mile run and a 1-mile swim.
It was one of the few events Shane has “begrudgingly” taken part in lately “because he’s starting to act 16 so he’s retiring,” Jim said.
“But Riley wakes up early and he wants to go,” he added. “He doesn’t have that 16 thing going yet. He wants to swim, bike, run. So as a dad, what do you do? I want to do what my kid wants to do.
“During the race you get to spend four or five hours together and they talk to you the whole time. It’s huge for me as a bonding experience.”
Shane said he’s opted out of the family races for a variety of reasons.
“That’s not who I want to be,” he said. “I like to play video games and make YouTube videos. And I don’t like to wake up early.”
As for the racing community, “People know us know so it’s way more accepted and we’re way more include, which partly why we wanted to start Team Hoyt San Diego.” Jim said.