BY RICH PALZEWIC
It wasn’t about times or placings at the 8th annual Goody Triathlon May 14 in Pulaski, Wisconsin … it was all about finishing and having a good time.
The Goody highlighted special-needs athletes in the area. Each athlete was paired with a student volunteer/mentor from area middle/high schools.
Warm temperatures and sunny skies welcomed hundreds to the annual event.
“I know the athletes and mentors both look forward to this day all year,” said Laura Goodness, who is the adaptive physical education teacher at Bay Port High School in Suamico, Wisconsin. “It is a wonderful event that lets everyone shine. Thinking back on previous races, it is hard to keep the smile off your face when remembering all the great moments – it just warms your heart to see everyone working together and encouraging each other to accomplish a common goal.”
The Goody consisted of a 150-yard swim inside Pulaski Middle School, which was followed by either a 2 or 4.5-mile bike. Participants ended with a 1.5 or 2.3-mile run/walk through the village of Pulaski, before finishing on the track at the high school.
The Goody Triathlon got its name from Laura’s husband, Kare Goodness, who is an adaptive physical education teacher in the Pulaski School District. Kare started the event as a way for his students to learn about goal setting and how to train in small steps to reach their goal. Before the first triathlon, the staff and students brainstormed names and came up with the name “Goody.”
“I look forward to the event all year,” said Bay Port freshman Jarrod Jaworski, who completed the event with his Bay Port mentor Isaac Krause.
Bay Port has been participating for six years now. Goodness pointed out that her first year attending she brought one student with her … now that number is up to 50 if you include the athletes, mentors and staff between the middle and high school.
“The mentors play a major role in helping the athletes compete in and complete the triathlon,” Goodness added. “The mentors are there when the athlete is ready to give up by motivating and encouraging them. On the flip side, it is awesome to see the energy that the mentors get from the athlete’s excitement. It is a wonderful relationship to watch grow as they work together, each learning something new.”
Andy Kros is the Bay View Middle School adaptive physical education teacher, so he works with the Goody athletes on a daily basis – training for Goody and doing many other physical education activities.
“I think the Goody is an awesome event,” said Kros, who also did the event last year. “This year we had eight athletes from Bay View who participated. It gives our athletes something to work towards throughout the year. We practice our biking, jogging and swimming throughout the entire school year. They work hard and it’s amazing seeing the excitement and sense of accomplishment when they cross the finish line; but the best part about the Goody is the bond and friendships that form between our athletes and their peer mentors. The mentors do an amazing job with the athletes. Most of them have made bonds well before the triathlon: they take time out of their school day to help out in the classroom, some come with when we practice swimming and others join us once a month to workout with the athletes. Overall it is an awesome experience for both our Goody athletes and peer mentors.”
The fun part about the event is actually when the day arrives and the athletes can have their day in the sun, but there’s a lot of work that goes into it behind the scenes.
“That’s the hard part,” said Kerry Janquart, who is a physical education teacher at Ashwaubenon High School and has been involved with the Goody for five years now. “Matching up the right size bikes, making sure everyone has helmets and then packing up everything afterwards. Even with all that work, it’s by far my favorite day of the year. It’s a great day for the athletes and their mentors.”