Monday, October 20, 2008

Letter from Jimmie
October 20th, 2008

The letter below I received from a young man by the name of Jimmie Guilfoyle who raced Ironman Louisville on behalf of a high school swimmer he coaches Tommy Steiner. Tommy has Down Syndrome. I was fortunate to be at the finish that evening when Jimmie crossed the finish line with Tommy running by his side. Having a child with Cerebral Palsy I know the challenges individuals like Tommy can face on a daily basis. The smile on Tommy’s face as he crossed the line moved me to tears. As the folks from Ironman placed a medal around Jimmie’s neck I reached into my pocket and put my medal around Tommy’s. It’s moments like these and letters like the one below which motivate me on a daily basis. To Jimmie and to Tommy – you are both winners in the most important race of all – The Race of Life!!

Letter from Jimmie Guilfoyle:

Mrs Gollnick,
I am not sure whether or not you will remember me; however, I really wanted to send this message to you thanking you for giving a medal (which I believe was your medal), to my friend Tommy Steiner who has Down syndrome.

I finished later on in the evening and Tommy crossed the finish line with me at Ironman Louisville. I am not sure if you know what impact you had on him, myself, and all of our family and friends that were there. I live right across the Ohio River from Louisville, so it is kind of like a hometown to me. There were a lot of people there supporting Tommy and I, and they all saw what you did. When I looked at his face after that happened, he looked like the world had been given to him, and I just wanted you to know that.

The reason he was with me is because I was racing to raise awareness and support for a foundation his parents started when he was born that helps support families who have been affected by Down syndrome, and I am glad to say it was a great success. It was an unbelievably rough day, as I am sure you know, but it was definitely the greatest day of my life.
I was really disappointed when I heard you had mechanical failures on your bike. I was hoping to see you win again. Congratulations on a great race though.

There is not much more I can really say other than thank you. I can speak for Tommy and his family when I say, what you did changed their life. He wears his medal nearly everyday now and is so proud to have it. So, THANK YOU.

Hope to see you reclaim your title next year.
Jimmie Guilfoyle

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