It is with heavy hearts and and much regret that we must announce the cancelation of the 2014 Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon, originally scheduled for September 7, 2014.
The Swim for Smiles Foundation is an all-volunteer non-profit that was established in 2005 for the purpose of raising money for N.C. Children’s Hospital through kids’ athletic events and our youth triathlon has become our flagship event. In fact, our triathlon has been recognized three times, by the readers of Endurance Magazine, as their favorite youth event in North Carolina and have been recognized by USA Triathlon as the primary driver for the growth of youth triathlon in the state.
However, in the past two years, nine new youth triathlons have launched in and around the Triangle area and, being a non-profit run by volunteers that mostly also have unrelated full time jobs, we can’t compete with for-profit triathlons run by paid staff. Based on current registrations, we would likely lose $22,000 to $28,000 this year if we held the event.
All the volunteers here at Swim for Smiles are deeply saddened by having to cancel this year’s event and the decision to cancel did not come easily. We agonized over for weeks and attempted to find a financial partner or sponsor to help defray the costs, but the economic conditions of the past few years have put a strain on everyone.
However, we are not disappearing. The Swim for Smiles Foundation plans on working with the the local schools to integrate a mandatory “learn to swim” program for all kids. Over 3000 kids drown each year in the US alone. We hope you will support our efforts to implement such a life-saving program.
And, for those of you looking for a local youth triathlon to participate in in lieu of our event, please consider the Tar Heel Youth Triathlon. We know the organizers personally and they put on a top-notch event.
The seventh annual Swim for Smiles youth triathlon was held Sunday at Briar Chapel and raised tens of thousands of dollars for N.C. Children’s Hospital. About 520 children ages 5 to 19 biked, swam and ran for a good cause. The event has grown each year since its inception and raised more than $200,000 total.
Jahner came our to our 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon this past weekend, Sept. 8, 2013. Read his story below, which originally appears here.
Youth, charity served at Chapel Hill triathlon
By Kyle Jahner
CHAPEL HILL — Like a father needing to buy a bigger bike for a growing child, the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon shifted to a bigger locale for its seventh edition.
But the core didn’t change: Tens of thousands of dollars raised and hundreds of competitors pouring sweat – and in cases blood and tears – into a morning of swimming, biking and running.
More than 520 youngsters aged five to 19 participated in the event concocted from Gary Kayye’s love of triathlons and his gratitude for the hospital that saved his daughter’s life. This year the Briar Chapel neighborhood south of Chapel Hill hosted what Kayye said will likely be the second largest youth triathlon in the country.
As it has grown over the years, the race – with its motto “kids helping kids” – has raised more than $200,000 for children’s hospitals, most of it going to the N.C. Children’s Hospital.
At the hospital in Chapel Hill, Kayye’s daughter was diagnosed at age four with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, a rare neurological disorder. She was treated for nine weeks. She survived and is now 17.
“That’s a life-changing experience. A doctor at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital saved her life, so it made me want to give back to that hospital at some point in time,” Kayye said. “When I got involved in triathlons, that’s when I started noticing kids (didn’t have their own triathlons) – and I put two and two together.”
Continue reading and view his awesome pictures here.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.–In a triathlon, whether you like the swimming part, biking, running or free ice cream at the end, there is one thing about the Swim for Smiles youth triathlon that no one is on the fence about.
The 7th annual Swim for Smiles triathlon made waves in North Carolina on Sunday and it is one of the largest youth triathlons in the United States.
This event is also something Swim for Smiles foundation co-founder Gary Kayye said “is going to be one of those days the swimmers will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Kayye started the event as a way to give back to the N.C. Children’s Hospital, after his daughter battled a serious illness. She and the event are doing well today.
The triathlon the first kids only race in North Carolina and gives youth a chance, even if they are not able to swim, bike or run.
“I love seeing the kids getting involved in the sport and at the same time helping the kids at the children’s hospital,” Kayye said.
Sabrina and Sydney Thompson at the 2012 Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon.
Sunday, September 8
8am: The seventh annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon – held for the first time in the fall – offers a new, wider course in Briar Chapel to accommodate more participants. Registration ($65-$150) is open to kids ages 5-18 and includes short- and long-course options, plus a limited number of relay teams. All money goes to the North Carolina Children’s Hospital. Visit the website or call (919) 969-7501 for more information.
Chapel Hill Magazine’s Amanda MacLaren recently interviewed our co-founder Gary Kayye about Swim for Smiles and the upcoming 7th Annual Youth Triathlon.
The 7th Annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon is a USA Triathlon-sanctioned race and will be held at the Briar Chapel community in Chapel Hill, N.C. on Sept. 8. The new venue accommodates more participants and offers a wider course.
Gary’s daughter, Annabelle, was diagnosed with Acute Demyelenating Encephalomyelitis (ADEM) when she was 4 years old. Since then, Annabelle has recovered, and Gary credits UNC Hospitals and its doctors with saving her life. Wanting to give back in some way, he teamed up with fellow swim parent Laura Gondek to create the Swim for Smiles Foundation in 2005. Its seventh annual triathlon, the organization’s biggest event, will be held in the fall for the first time on Sunday, Sept. 8. The USA Triathlon-sanctioned race offers a new, wider course in Briar Chapel to accommodate more participants. Registration is open to kids ages 5-18 and includes short- and long-course options, plus a limited number of relay teams. All money goes to the N.C. Children’s Hospital.
1- Swim for Smiles was the largest children’s triathlon in the U.S. a couple years ago. Why do you think it’s taken off like it has?
We were in the right place at the right time. We put together a kids’ race right at the peak of popularity of adult triathlons. In 2010 and ‘11, it was the fastest growing sport in the world. I think a lot of parents who were involved in it wanted their kids to be involved, too.
I also think we have a very active community here in Chapel Hill. In fact, we were told by USA Triathlon back in 2011 or 2012 that North Carolina was one of the top five states overall for adult triathlons. I think we kind of got lucky in the sense that we started our race as the sport was building in popularity and I think that we peaked at the right time. Now, it was just announced about a month ago that triathlon is going to be an NCAA sport in 2018 for girls and 2019 for boys. I think we started at the right time, because some of the kids that are involved in our triathlon will absolutely become triathletes in college.
2- How intensive is the training for the triathlon?
We do put on clinics before the race and, of course, we put out a tremendous amount of education information. If you go to our website, www.swimforsmiles.org, we teach you the steps of how to do a triathlon. For the last six years, more than half of the kids have been participating in their first triathlon. But the nice thing is we have a short course, which can take anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes to complete. And then we have a long course for kids who are a little more experienced, which is twice the distance in each area basically, and that can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The younger kids gravitate towards the shorter course and the older kids gravitate towards the longer course, and we have some kids who are extremely athletic and do both courses in the same day.
The Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon wouldn’t be The Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon if it weren’t for the hard work friends, family, volunteers, community businesses, Chapel Hill and Carrboro town officials — and especially the kids — put into making this event an amazing success.
In all this celebrating, let’s not forget those that have helped spread the word about the triathlon — and even showed up to help us document all the fun and energy.
The Swim for Smiles Team would like to say thanks to all the news organizations that came out on Sunday to support us!
WCHL’s talented Ross Maloney recorded a PSA for the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon happening this Sunday! Tune into WCHL (1360 AM or 97.9 FM). If you’re listening between 6 – 9 a.m. and 5 – 6 p.m. now through Sunday, you’re almost sure to hear it!
Thanks, WCHL, for helping us spread the word!
But just in case you want a listen before that happens, we’ve got it for you here!
Get excited, everyone! Only three more days until the race!