Father carries disabled daughter in triathlon

5:25 AM, Aug 22, 2012   |    comments
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  • Rick Van Beek pulls his daughter, Maddy Van Beek in a triathlon. (Courtesy: Lech Lecha Triathlon)

BYRON CENTER, Mich. (WZZM) - A West Michigan family is getting international attention for the love between a father and his daughter. Mary, Rick and Maddy Van Beek were in the WZZM 13 studios Tuesday evening or a live satellite interview with Channel Nine Australia.

Maddy has cerebral palsy and her father, Rick quit smoking and began exercising in 2008 so he could have his 13-year-old daughter with him during triathlons.

Rick pulls her in a boat while he's swimming, and in a cart while biking, and pushes her in a stroller while running. Maddy smiles the whole time.

"He's her legs. She can't do it, so we help her," says Mary van Beek. "And I can't do it without her motivation. I've tried," says Rick Van Beek. "She may not say, 'Dad, run faster.' But she'll stop smiling, she won't have fun and she'll start getting cranky. I can't do it without her."

Rick's wife, son and older daughter also take part in the triathlons, either helping Maddy or by running or swimming in the events.

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