South Beach Triathlon is a team effort

Children helped disabled competitors get to the finish line

By Madeleine Wright - Reporter

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Volunteers with the Thumbs Up Foundation lowered Kerry Gruson into her kayak.

Her legs have been paralyzed and she can barely move her arms after a devastating attack on the job when she was 26.

"She was a New York Times reporter and she was doing an interview, and the guy, that was receiving the interview, he got a PTSD moment and strangled her," said triathlete MariCarmen Saleta.

The attack left Gruson's vocal cords severely damaged and her head permanently cocked to the side.
But the 71-year-old isn't letting her disability hold her back.

After completing several triathlons with help from adults, Sunday's South Beach Triathlon is the first she's done with the help of children.

"I feel good because, like, it helps you, like you feel like you're helping her, but at the end she's also helping you during the race," said triathlete 12-year-old Lewis Emilio Perez.

Lewis swam while pulling Gruson for half a mile.

After that, his father, Lewis Ramon Perez, stepped in, pulling Gruson on his bike for 20 miles, and then his 7-year-old son, Anthony Lewis Perez, helped push Gruson in her wheelchair while running.

"She's definitely the heart and engine to get us united to accomplish this," Perez said.

The Perez family is hoping to inspire others in the community to love each other a little more. 

"It doesn't matter where you come from, what your abilities are. It's about giving and taking and making a good relationship," Perez said.

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