Our daughter-in-law was chopping wood on their farm. Her 3-year-old Seth, was watching. When she encountered a stubborn knot, she said, “Lord, give me a little help here. What should I do?” Seth said, “I heard Jesus’ little voice in my tummy.” Dallas smiled, “What did he say?” Seth said, “He said you should just keep choppin’ and choppin’.”
Few know how to keep choppin’ quite like 21-year-old Chris Nikic. When Chris entered the Ironman triathlon, few gave him a hope. It’s an almost 4 km swim, followed by a 180 km bike ride, and for dessert, there’s a 42 km run. And Chris has Down Syndrome.
At four, he finally walked on his own. He finally learned to run, but it was months before he could swing his arms at his side rather than hold them straight above his head. At 15 he first rode a bike. It took six months to finally travel 100 feet, but he was hooked.
With the help of a training group and volunteer coach, he set his sights on the Ironman, rising early for 100-mile bike rides and 20-mile runs. “One step. Two steps. Three,” he said. Could he be the first competitor with Down syndrome to complete an Ironman triathlon?
Before the race, his father told a reporter, “Based on all of his training I was certain he would finish in under 17 hours. Unless something went wrong. Something can always go wrong.” Dad was right.
A strong wind blew off the Gulf of Mexico, but Chris emerged from the choppy sea in just under two hours, boarded his trusty 10-speed and set off on the 112-mile ride. But, speeding down a hill, he crashed. As he ran, the muggy air stole his breath. “He looked like a zombie,” said his sister Jacky. “Like he was just absolutely done.”
His team huddled around him, with hugs and encouragement. Chris began to jog again. “One step. Two steps. Three.” The words moved him forward. Until, remarkably, Chris Vikic crossed the finish line, 14 minutes under the cut-off time, his arms held high.
What a guy! What an inspiration! Hebrews 12 says, “And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us…keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
Chris later said, “God surrounded me with Angels…I achieved my goal and now I want to help others like me…It’s time to set a new and bigger goal.”
Whatever you’re up against, remember Chris and keep choppin’.
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