Team Valley-based office technology firm, SOS Group, is continuing its sponsorship and support for a disability triathlon in Newcastle that is growing in popularity every year.
Organised by keen triathletes, Jo Shallcross and Tracey Sample, the Reason To Disability Triathlon gives local children and adults with disabilities the opportunity to take part in the event they love.
Jo, from Ponteland, was first inspired to organise a triathlon tailored to the individual needs of North East children after seeing a disabled child enjoying triathlon in Hawaii.
With the help of her friend, Tracey, from Amble, The Reason To Disability Triathlon is now in its seventh year and this year had 39 participants aged from eight to 29-years-old.
They all the opportunity to take part in a traditional triathlon – swimming, cycling and running – with distances adapted according to ability and with all the support they needed.
Elijah Parsons, age 13 from Newcastle, is a pupil at Benfield School and has spina bifida. He had taken part in the triathlon previously and enjoys the competition.
Elijah says: “I think I’ve been doing this triathlon since I was about 10. For me, the swimming part is the best because I like being in the water and the cycling is probably the most challenging.
“I’ve got a special handbike that attaches to this wheelchair and is powered by my hands. Going up the hills today in the heat was really hard.”
Elijah’s mum, Jo Parsons, loved watching her son compete and is enthusiastic about all the different elements of the day.
Jo says: “This event means Elijah can participate in something that’s accessible to him and where everything’s prepared for his needs.
“It’s a chance for him to feel he’s good at something because he’s at a disadvantage a lot of the time. And he can see other people with disabilities, and how they vary and change, so that exposure is really good for him.”
Newcastle United’s Shola Ameobi is a long-time supporter of the Reason To Disability Triathlon and was on hand to present the medals and congratulate the participants.
Shola says: “I think this is my fifth or sixth disability triathlon. It’s just amazing to see the amount of effort that goes into putting it together.
“It’s a great opportunity for kids and adults with disabilities to really enjoy working out, to enjoy the camaraderie and enjoy being part of something together. It’s really important that they continue to have this opportunity to celebrate and compete, regardless of what challenges they face, and we can all come together and enjoy being part of it.”
SOS Group supplies and maintains leading brand digital office equipment and offers a full range of office management services, including unified communications, IT support, document management, cost consultation and managed print services.
Now in their 20th year, the company pride themselves on their community involvement and have donated more than £250,000 to support charities, talented young individuals and community organisations since they set out in business.
Andrew Skelton, Director, says: “SOS is incredibly proud to be part of this wonderful event, which is going from strength to strength every year.
“It’s incredibly inspiring seeing the triathletes giving it their all and having the opportunity to compete and enjoy rising to the challenges of swimming, cycling and running. Their commitment is fantastic and we love seeing the smiles of achievement afterwards.”