Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Blind Iraq veteran makes her debut in St. Anthony's Triathlon

ST. PETERSBURG

As water crept above Kathy Champion's waist, old anxieties started to kick in again.

Just minutes earlier, the former Army lieutenant colonel who had heard "too many" gunshots during her time in Iraq was nearly transported back to the war zone with the pop of the starter's gun.

But Champion — blind, half-deaf and fearful of crowds as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder — pushed through her fears to compete in Sunday morning's St. Anthony's Triathlon, well ahead of her goal to finish the race by noon.

A daredevil before she was disabled in Iraq, she had dedicated her triathlon debut to five men who died under her command.

"I didn't do anything other than what all those other people who crossed the finish line did," said Champion, 48, of Gulfport. "The only difference is I did it for five people who are 6 feet under because they died in combat. I will never forget the sacrifice they made."

It was the first triathlon for Champion's race assistants, Katie and Jeff Morrow, too.

Throughout the race, Champion and Katie Morrow said, the athletes were met with applause and encouragement from spectators who had seen Champion's story in the Tampa Bay Times.

"It was fun," said 28-year-old Morrow, who helped guide Champion through the swim and sprint run portions while her husband piloted Champion's tandem bike. "It was great to help her."

Among the highlights, said Champion, a Steelers fan since the 1980s, was a hug and kiss from Hines Ward, the former Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl champion. The two started in the same swim wave.

After the race, Champion beamed and bounced from left to right as she excitedly recapped the day's events.

"I feel alive. Every inch of me is awake. It feels so good to be alive," she exclaimed. "What's next?"

Keyonna Summers can be reached at (727) 445-4153 or ksummers@tampabay.com.

More on this story

On a smart phone, touch the red dots, or mouse over them on a desktop and find links to more videos or related coverage.

Blind Iraq veteran makes her debut in St. Anthony's Triathlon 04/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 8, 2013 2:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  2. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River

    Accidents

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.

  3. Analysis: Bannon is out, but his agenda may live on

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — In his West Wing office, Stephen Bannon kept a chart listing trade actions — on China, steel and autos — that the Trump White House planned to roll out, week by week, through the fall. Now that Bannon, the president's chief strategist, has been pushed out, the question is whether his …

    Steve Bannon thinks he could be more effective influencing policy from outside the White House.
  4. Trump to skip Kennedy Center Honors awards program

    Politics

    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — Acknowledging that he has become a "political distraction," President Donald Trump has decided to skip the festivities surrounding the annual Kennedy Center Honors arts awards later this year, the White House announced Saturday amid the continuing fallout over Trump's stance on last weekend's …

  5. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times