Ten-year-old Emily Rollin's persistence has lead to this Saturday's kids triathlon organized by her father and several of his bicycle-riding friends.
"She just wouldn't let it go," her father Chad Rollins said while sitting under a pavilion at Dorchester Swim and Tennis Club in Belleville, where Emily is a member of the swim team. "I finally had to say, 'OK, let's do it."
Emily, an incoming fifth-grader at Blessed Sacrament School, got the idea to host a kids triathlon in Belleville after competing in one in Chicago. She placed 395 out of 501 kids in August.
"The Chicago Tri was really fun and driving home I asked my dad if we could do one," Emily recalled. Her dad agreed.
"Emily is a daughter who wouldn't let me forget what I said," Chad said. "She wanted to do this."
A triathlon is an athletic competition that incorporates three different events. During the Dorchester Kid's Triathlon, Chad explained, participants, ages 5 to 17 years old, will swim at Dorchester; bike on 74th Street and adjacent streets; and run at Stookey Township Park. Emily said the second lap around the park "hurts the most."
Children, ages 5 to 9, will swim 50 yards, bike 1.01 miles and run 0.5 miles; and 10 to 17 year olds will swim 100 yards, bike 2.2 miles and run one mile. The top boy and girl from each age division and the overall top three boys and girls will receive trophies. Every participant will receive a finisher's medal.
This Saturday's event will benefit the Dorchester swim team and the Children's Dyslexia Center of Southern Illinois. Emily started attending the dyslexia center in September. "They really helped me with my dyslexia," she said.
Dyslexia is a learning disability that interferes with language processing. The center in Belleville provides professional treatment free of charge to elementary and high school students with dyslexia.
Emily is currently attending summer school at the center two days a week. "It's a really great program," Chad said.
The triathlon is still accepting participants, who can register from 6 to 7 a.m. Saturday at Dorchester Swim and Tennis Club, located at 801 S. 74th St. in Belleville. There are 100 spots are available, and more than three dozen children have already registered for the event. The cost is $45.
"It's really about doing something fun, raising awareness and hopefully raising some money," Chad said.
To participate you don't have to be experienced, according to Chad. "It's really designed for the first-time kids," he said. "We are working on making it fun and about enjoying the triathlon atmosphere."
Chad, 44, started participating in triathlons four years ago and has since competed in eight, what he called, "small" triathlons.
"It's a lot of fun," he said. "You are able to do three different training activities, which is good for the body."
Now his children are following in his footsteps. Along with Emily, her sister Alex Rollins, 12, will also participate in the triathlon. Alex is going to be a seventh-grader at Blessed Sacrament. The girls live with their parents, Chad and Chris Rollins, in west Belleville.
Chad said several local businesses have stepped up to help sponsor the triathlon including The Abbey, Memorial Hospital, Main Street Market and Magnesium Elektron.
For more information or to register for the event, contact Chad at 394-1345.
Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or firstname.lastname@example.org.