It started as a way to give back to their sister’s rehab center after Caroline suffered a traumatic brain injury. Neither of these two brothers knew that the triathlon they entered would turn into a lifelong celebration of community and family.
“The look of pure joy on her face is imprinted in my memory,” says Reid Owen. “Jay was carrying Caroline from the swim exit in Knoxville, and a picture captured that moment perfectly. It captured the reason we do this.”
Caroline has been an athlete all her life. Her athletic life changed when she sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a car accident in November 2006. After the accident, Caroline was in the hospital for 7 months at Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center at the Fort Sanders Hospital in Knoxville, TN.
“Caroline has worked really hard and does several sessions a week,” Jay Owen said. “She is a very determined person, and with the help from Patricia Neal she is able to do amazing things each year. They get to do a high ropes, scuba diving, sking day. And recently, Caroline did a relay portion of a local marathon.”
One thing that is important to both brothers is that Caroline has made a piece of this whole triathlon aspect her own too.
“As important as the togetherness is when we race, it is important that Caroline has some things that are hers, that she has a part that is truly hers. Sport has always been a part of her, and triathlon has become her sport family. It is great to hear that she is doing things like the marathon on her own with others.”
There is no doubt when one asks either brother about Caroline, they are proud. Both proud of her able to still push herself, and her ability to push them.
“Jay was the big kid in school. At 6 feet, 4 inches, he was a linebacker. Let’s just say swimming isn’t really Jay’s strength,” Reid, who swam at University of North Carolina, stated rather frankly. “But through this whole process (of racing for Caroline Can Foundation), Jay has become quite the cyclist. Jay can ride with the pro cyclists now. And believe it or not, can swim.”
With Caroline, the brothers have stayed active and involved in sport, motivating them to carve out the time to workout. Both Jay and Reid are lawyers in the D.C. area —Busy lives with many things to balance. But one thing is certain. REV3 Knoxville brings them home.
“This race brings us together. It is a celebration of Caroline’s life, of her determination and also the spirit of family and community,” Jay said. “Its not just the three of us doing these things, but rather a whole community. The location of Knoxville REV3 is perfect for Caroline and the family atmosphere blends so well with our reason for being at the start line.”
Currently, the brothers have worked with a engineer to design biking equipment and will begin testing it, so that they can ride with Caroline. Currently, the brothers swim and pull Caroline in a custom half canoe, and then run with her, while she pedals.
“We are excited to test out the biking equipment so Caroline can ride with us.” Reid added.
Caroline sure can—And so can the brothers. Some times the lessons and motivation in life go both ways.