The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Courtesy photo.

Kids TRY-Athlon

When: Sunday, Aug. 14, 8 a.m.
Where: Begins at Bedford Memorial Town Pool (20 County Road), and continues up County and Nashua roads before concluding at Bedford High School (47 Nashua Road)
Cost: $30 registration per child

Junior athletes
Kids TRY-Athlon welcomes all ages and abilities

By Matt Ingersoll

 Grab your favorite running shoes, bicycle and bathing suit for the fourth annual Kids TRY-Athlon in Bedford, a friendly event that gives kids an opportunity to participate in a race regardless of their athletic ability.

The race will kick off at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 14, with the swimming portions at Bedford Memorial Town Pool. It will continue with the bicycling portion down County and Nashua roads in Bedford, with the running portion taking place around Bedford High School. 
All participants will be broken into two age groups with two different race track lengths. Kids ages 4 to 10 will swim for 25 yards, bike for 1 mile and run for a half mile, while kids ages 11 to 15 will swim for 50 yards, bike for 2 miles and run for 1 mile. 
The event raises money for children’s bereavement support services at Home Health & Hospice Care in Merrimack. The race also serves as a tribute to Aine Phillips, a young girl from Bedford who died in August 2010 at the age of 8 from pulmonary veno occlusive disease, a form of pulmonary hypertension.
Aine’s mother, Christine, who organized the triathlon and founded the Friends of Aine Foundation, said the race incorporates her daughter’s favorite activities.
“We wanted to do something positive as an avenue to turn the grief process around a little,” Christine Phillips said. “Aine loved to play and ride her bike with friends, so we came up with the idea to do a kids triathlon in August of 2013 and had about 150 kids run in that first year. [Members of] the community have been such huge supporters of everything we have done.”
Phillips said the foundation was created as a nonprofit organization dedicated to support grieving siblings, friends and other children to help them feel that they are not alone in their bereavement.
“We learned a lot about the fact that there was parental support and support from compassionate friends,” she said, “but we also learned that there was limited help available to surviving children.”
Aine’s younger sister Bella was just 5 years old at the time of her older sister’s death.
“The beauty with most support groups, I think, is that you can walk into a group support setting for people who understand how you feel,” Phillips said. “[But] Bella would come home from school and say that she didn’t feel like she belonged in school.”
Phillips said Bella started going to an eight-week session at Home Health & Hospice Care, called the Good Grief program, but the session would only run for a couple of times out of the year.
“It’s such a short period,” she said, “so we worked to give the center the money we raised from the triathlons to expand the programs and make it more available.”
The Good Grief program at Home Health & Hospice now runs every two weeks from September to May throughout the school year. More than 30 children and families are actively involved, including Bella, and more than $50,000 has been raised toward the program from the foundation through grants, donations and fundraisers such as the triathlon.
Phillips said the foundation’s next major goal is a capital campaign to open a permanent center for grieving children in Aine’s name.
“We’ve actually outgrown the physical space that we use to hold the program,” she said. 
Registration for the triathlon is available online through noon on Friday, Aug. 12, but Phillips said pre-registration will be available at the Town Pool from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 13. Kids can also sign up on the day of the race just before it starts, she said.
All runners will receive participation medals, and awards will be given out to the top-finishing boy and one girl of four age brackets, from the ages of 4 to 6, from 7 to 9, from 10 to 12 and from 13 to 15.
At the finish line, kids and their families are encouraged to stick around at the high school to enjoy music, jump roping, an obstacle course, face-painting, concessions, raffle prizes and more. Last year’s triathlon saw more than 300 runners and 150 volunteers.

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