CHAPEL HILL - Youth from all over will once again raise money for the NC Children’s Hospital next Sunday in the seventh annual Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon.
Swim for Smiles was co-founded in 2005 by Gary Kayye and Laura Gondek. Kayye said that he and his daughter Annabel founded SFS as a way to give back to the hospital.
“She became a year around swimmer and is now hoping to possibly swim in college one day, and she developed a passion for swimming and sort of married her passion for swimming with wanting to give back to the hospital, and that’s what ended up becoming Swim for Smiles Foundation,” Kayye said.
Before Swim for Smiles started, there were no triathlons in which only kids could participate. Now a USA Triathlon sanctioned race, Kayye said that everything came together just right when beginning Swim for Smiles.
“Well I’ll marry the passion for my sport that I adopted, with the passion to give back to the children’s hospital and let’s create a children’s triathlon” Keyye said “and really we were at the right place at the right time because at the time USA triathlon was specifically looking to build up the sport among youths and they helped us establish our race and one thing led to another.”
A few years ago, SFS held the largest youth triathlon in the country. As it continues to grow, SFS has moved to the larger venue at Briar Chapel to accommodate more participants and a wider course. Kayye said that he hopes SFS will one day grow to compare to the popularity of Dance Marathon.
“I would love to think that one day we’ll be as big as the dance marathon, but we are really happy with where we are right now, we’ve enjoyed really nice growth, in 2011 we were the largest kids triathlon in the United States, second largest in the world” Keyye commented.
This year SFS is having a larger finish line festival with food trucks, Juggle Boy, bounce houses, a rock climbing wall, and face painting.
Registration for the triathlon will only be open for a couple more days if you are interested in participating in the race. You can enter in the Promo Code WCHL to receive 25% off the registration for the race.
SFS is also always looking for more volunteers to help with the events. To register for the race or to find our about volunteering click here.