Team Ladybugs beat cash target
Big-hearted Bermudians have helped a father-and-daughter wheelchair team return to racing after the duo crashed out of MS Amlin World Triathlon Bermuda last month.
Now Stephan Couture will be able to buy new equipment for his 13-year-old daughter, Chloe, and himself to ride because donors smashed an $18,000 fundraising target to replace their custom-built bicycle and wheelchair combination.
The pair, who race as Team Ladybugs, charmed the island’s residents when they took to the streets of Hamilton to compete in the event on April 27. But their machine was written off after they crashed on Park Road, Hamilton. Mr Couture heaped gratitude on Bermudians yesterday and said he hoped to show supporters the new equipment during a planned return next year.
He said: “As Chloe is fond of saying, ‘wow’, how can we possibly thank the people of Bermuda enough for all they have done?.
“Not only have they been so generous in their words of support, but also in less than a week they have achieved the target needed to replace Chloe’s racing equipment.
“Everything is on order and we are hoping to have it all ready to be able to take part in the next ITU World Triathlon Series race in Leeds in June.”
Mr Couture added: “We loved Bermuda, we loved the warmth, generosity and friendliness of everyone we met. Thank you from all of us seems so little to say but it is said with truly thankful hearts. We hope we will have the opportunity to show you all in person the new kit in action as we hope to return next year to take part in the ITU World Triathlon Bermuda 2020.”
Team Ladybugs’ mission was set up to highlight disabled people’s ability to take part in sports events safely with the right equipment and experience the excitement of competition.
The pair compete in triathlons in the specially built combination, but the set-up was damaged beyond repair in the crash.
Mr Couture suffered a broken rib and Chloe, who has cerebral palsy, suffered minor injuries.
He said the pair, who travelled 3,500 miles from their home in Warwickshire, England, to compete in the event, received an outpouring of support from members of the public and organisations, who asked how they could donate towards a new bike and wheelchair.
A GoFundMe page was launched on Monday and the $18,000 target was passed by Wednesday afternoon. Comments left by donors included: “I met Stephan at the bottom of Corkscrew Hill two days before the Bermuda triathlon after reading all about him and Chloe.
Absolutely gutted by what happened. Let’s get them back on the road as soon as possible.”
Another wrote: “Seeing the joy on Chloe’s face when she was out and about was so infectious she spread her joy around the City of Hamilton.”
Donations from MS Amlin Bermuda and the Green family, which owns the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, also fuelled the fundraising drive.
Mr Couture and his wife, Diane, who have both worked with disabled people, adopted Chloe when she was five after they read her story in a church bulletin.
The father said that regardless of the time or the weather, his daughter asked to go out racing in her chair, which she called DD1 — Daddy, Daughter One.
Team Ladybugs started a mission to race in all eight ITU World Triathlon Series events and their Bermuda effort was sponsored by Massachusetts General Hospital, the Hamilton Princess hotel and British Airways.
Mr Couture said: “Chloe is asking every day to go out in DD1 and soon we will be able to give her the ability to go out in her new chair DD2 (B) — Daddy, Daughter Two (Bermuda).
“Wow, thank you all again.”
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