Terminally-ill dad finishes Ironman race for 7-year-old daughter

  • Jay Hewitt, a 39-year-old triathlete, fulfilled a five-year-old promise to finish an Ironman race.
  • He said that he wanted to inspire his daughter that she could be anything she wanted to be if she works for it.
  • Despite battling brain cancer, the motivated dad finished the Ironman VR Kona virtual race in less than 14 hours.

Jay Hewitt, diagnosed with brain cancer, has his own way of beating it.

Despite having gone through two brain surgeries, 30 radiation sessions, and a year of chemo, Jay successfully finished the Ironman triathlon. And it’s all thanks to his seven-year-old daughter, Hero, who effortlessly inspired him to thrive.


The 39-year-old triathlete recalled his thoughts when he first learned about the Ironman race in 1989 after seeing it on TV: “They must be superhuman.”

When his daughter was born in 2015, he remembered the race and pledged to himself that he would join after 10 years. The reason, he explained, was to show his daughter that she could be anything she wanted to be if she puts her mind into it.

In 2018, however, Jay was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This drove him to train earlier than planned.

“My first day of radiotherapy and chemotherapy in August 2019 was the first day I started my Ironman training,” he said.

The Ironman race in 2020 was suspended because of the pandemic. Jay then reached out to the organizers and learned about the Ironman VR Kona virtual race, which was a perfect opportunity for him.

“I was able to design my own course in my hometown and plot the finish line so it was right in front of my garage, which I knew would give me a sense of coming home that would drive me throughout.”

Jay officially entered the race on October 9. He started with a two-mile swim at Back Bay Beach in Newport, biked for 112 miles, and ran the remaining 26.2 miles to complete the race.

His illness came as another challenge during the event as he experienced severe stomach ache, causing vomits and inability to digest any nutrition or hydration. But all the pain paid off when he made it to the finish line after 13 hours and 40 minutes, and was welcomed with hundreds of people cheering him on.

Photo Credit: Jay Hewitt/Instagram

The eager triathlete dad said that seeing his daughter was enough to make him feel it was worth it.

“My daughter and my wife were holding that tape, so I just zeroed in on them thinking ‘I’m coming home.’ I didn’t have much energy, but I gave my wife a kiss, handed my wife and daughter flowers, and got down on my knees to say to Hero, ‘If I can do it, you can do it. Dream big and never give up hope.’ I got to tell her that it was really hard for me but I had thought about coming home to her, and that she had given me the strength to finish.”


Source: Sunny Skyz

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