The Superhero Tri is a fully inclusive triathlon that sees superheroes with disabilities swim, cycle, and run either solo or with a team of sidekicks. Teams can tackle the whole course, or take on a section each, and it is open to people with any disability.

James will be completing the Superhero Tri with his mum, Heather, and sisters Eliza and Katelin. Katelin will be taking on the swimming with James, Eliza will be cycling with him, and Heather will be running or walking the final part of the triathlon with him.

James has Down’s Syndrome, global developmental delay, and autism, so the family were keen to do an inclusive event together. Heather said:

I thought it would be a huge achievement for James. It’s also nice to be a part of something that is inclusive to our children and where they won’t feel out of place or looked upon as being different.

Down’s Syndrome occurs when a person is born with an extra chromosome. People with Down’s Syndrome will have some level of learning disability, but this varies greatly from person to person. James’s communication is impacted and he has limited speech, but he is strong-willed and knows exactly what he wants and how to communicate that with his family!

It can often be difficult for James to join in with activities, particularly sports, as they are so often not accessible to people with disabilities. James attends a parents stay and play SEN (special educational needs) group every fortnight, which he loves. The Superhero Tri will give him the opportunity to complete a sporting challenge alongside other people with disabilities, which he is not usually able to do.

James struggles with loud noises and crowds, so the Superhero Tri will be a challenge for him. With his family by his side and the Variety team cheering him on from the side lines, James will have plenty of support to keep him going round the course.

James’s family came to Variety for a bag of sensory toys to help James’s development. The sensory equipment from Variety has allowed him to develop motor and communication skills, as well as regulate his emotions. Heather said:

The sensory bag included things which were amazing. Playing with the space blanket and seeing his face light up is priceless. The glitter rods are his favourite, and he finds the slinky highly amusing until he tangles it up and it takes me forever to untangle them. But we interact and it’s beautiful.

The family has decided to take part in the Superhero Tri as part of Team Variety. We have put together a team of beneficiaries and fundraisers  who will all be completing the course.

Heather said, “He is a whole world of love and hugs. He walks in the room and everything is just better. If you’re sad, he knows, and a James hug is just what’s needed. He is the glue that bonds us all together.

“James loves being active. His favourite thing at his SEN group is most definitely ping pong, he loves wii wrestling, anything with Marvel superheroes. When we take the dog for a walk, we go up onto Salisbury Plain, where James loves to run about and jump in the muddiest of puddles.

“James is laid back and doesn’t really understand what’s going on with the Superhero Tri, but the rest of us are nervous and excited to be able to do something, not just to benefit James, but all other children and families in similar situations.

“I just want to say thank you for the privilege to be able to participate in the event – we are all super excited to be a part of something so special!”