AUSTIN — Soldiers and family members of 2nd Battalion, 381st Regiment, 479th Field Artillery Brigade, Division West, volunteered at the Capital of Texas Triathlon on May 27.
The annual event attracted more than 3,000 participants from all over the world.
The triathlon consisted of sprint and Olympic distance competitions, starting with a cool dip in Lady Bird Lake, followed by a bike ride through the streets of downtown Austin, past the Capitol and University of Texas campus, and ending with a fierce foot race that concluded with the cheers of screaming spectators.
“Dragon Strike” soldiers and family members volunteered in various locations throughout the race. Some helped quench the thirst of athletes as they crossed the finish line, while others helped athletes remove their wet suits as they transitioned from the swim to the cycling portion of the race.
Several other soldiers and family members assisted paratriathletes throughout the day.
In the USA Paratriathlon National Championship division of the race, athletes competed not just for the national championship, but also the opportunity to be part of the first-ever United States paratriathlon team that will compete in the Paralympic Games in 2016.
The crowd roared as Melissa Stockwell crossed the finish line, securing first place in the Paratriathlon Class II Category of the national championship.
Stockwell is an Iraq war veteran who lost her leg in 2004 while leading a convoy in Baghdad. She swam for the United States at the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing, is on the board of directors for the Wounded Warrior Project, and is the co-founder of the Dare2tri Paratriathlon Club, a paratriathlon training program that works with athletes with disabilities.
Jamal Sarhani, a “Dragon Strike” family member, assisted paratriathlete Howie Sanborn, an Army Ranger who was paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. Despite the demands of the race, Sanborn took time to mentor Sarhani, a cadet in the University of Texas-San Antonio Army ROTC program, and aspiring Ranger.
“What an amazing opportunity it was to volunteer at this event,” Sarhani said. “Howie helped me way more than I helped him. He taught me the importance of being positive in the midst of incredible hardship.”