While on the Grand Rapids Tri course this year, you may notice a few dozen athletes wearing Dream Team gear as they race. These athletes are part of a team who have raised money and are racing for Make-A-Wish Michigan. They’ll not only achieve a goal of their own by crossing the finish line, but also help make dreams come true for area children dealing with critical illnesses. Mike Tyska, his wife Cathy, and daughter Maddie are just a few of these Dream Team athletes.
You may not only recognize their Dream Team gear but also their faces. Mike & Cathy are not strangers to triathlon or the Grand Rapids Tri. They have participated in this event since it first began in 2011. Mike did his first triathlon while he was in high school back in 1985 when a local bike shop he worked for just outside Chicago was sponsoring the event. It took him more than 20 years to do another one. In 2008 he signed up for his second triathlon as a way to motivate himself to become more active and stay focused on training.
With a busy family schedule, Mike needs to be flexible in his triathlon training and some weeks can be more of a struggle than others. This year he is assisting the team with group training, which he credits for keeping him more on track. The team hopes to have more group training opportunities this year not only to help get ready for race day but to help with team camaraderie.
The Tyska family became connected with the Dream Team through Mike’s volunteer work with the Cannonsburg Challenged Ski Association. He is an adaptive snow ski instructor and his ski partner, Kyle, became a Wish Kid in 2014. A fellow teammate and Wish Dad, Bill, asked Mike if he would be interested in joining the Dream Team. Mike says, “Fundraising for Make-A-Wish brought purpose to my training and reenergized my triathlon experience.” The funds raised by Dream Team members help Make-A-Wish grant wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy. “There are countless stories of the impact of a Wish for the entire Wish Family when the family needs it most.”
Mike’s highlight triathlon moment was having his then 13-year-old daughter, Maddie, join him on the Dream Team and complete her first triathlon. When asked about challenges he faced as a triathlete, Mike says, “When I hear the stories of Make-A-Wish families, my challenges are trivial. Wish Kids and their families inspire me to live in the present.” His 2018 race goal is to try to raise more money for Make-A-Wish than he did last year.
We wish Mike, Maddie, and all the Dream Team athletes well as they reach for their goals in fundraising and on the course. If you would like to learn more about the Dream Team, Make-A-Wish, or donate to their cause, please check out: www.grandrapidstri.com/team-make-wish/. The Dream Teamers include first-time triathletes, experienced triathletes, and relay teams. If you would like to bring some purpose to your training and triathlon experience by joining the team check out their information.