Last week I headed down to Maitland, FL to meet up with Chris Nikic.
Back in July, a story caught my attention about a 21-year-old guy who was training to become the first person with down syndrome to complete the Ironman Triathlon while giving motivational speeches to crowds of 2,000 in his downtime.
A week later I received an email from Chris' dad thanking me for the piece on Chris.
Turns out they were at their gym outside Orlando training, and a guy came up to Chris while he was on the treadmill. As his father Nik tells it, the guy was staring at Chris for a while before turning to his dad and asking, "Is that him?"
Chris' dad, confused, replied, "Is that who?"
"The guy from Barstool"
The man pulled up his phone and showed Nik the blog and showed him how to find it.
Nik said he was overcome with emotion at how supportive all the comments were. He showed Chris and he said he beamed with pride.
They reached out to me to thank me and extend an invitation to meet Chris if I was ever in the Orlando area.
I thanked them, and half-jokingly asked if I would be able to bring a friend down (White Sox Dave) and train with Chris instead.
"Sure thing. Let us know when" Nik replied.
So I got to work.
A few postponements, MLB playoffs, and a positive White Sox Dave covid test later and I was in Orlando by myself.
I used a lifeline and phoned a friend, WWE Superstar Mojo Rawley, who lived nearby to come help out.
I was under the gun because Chris' race was less than 2 weeks away and his training was ramping up.
Plus NBC and ESPN had caught wind of his story and had tapings of their own setup for this week. So the clock was ticking for me to be able to meet with Chris before his schedule got even more nuts.
As you'll see from the video, his days are far from normal. Miles and miles of swimming, running, and biking, along with weightlifting and volunteering. And those are "light days."
Not to spoil the video but Chris lives his life by a 1% mission statement, which is incredibly transformative and inspiring. A little bit better each day. A little bit better today than yesterday. A little bit faster than yesterday. Stronger than yesterday. A little bit each day compounds over time and equals huge changes.
This mindset is truly remarkable, as is his outlook on everything about life.
The only thing Chris likes more than "smoking hot blondes", (as you'll soon find out) is giving out hugs. He says "there's not a lot that hugs can't fix."
He never makes excuses, for anything. Or feels sorry for himself. His attitude is flat out awesome.
Meeting him was one of the best days I have ever had and something I will never forget.
I'm proud to say I met an amazing friend, and I can't wait to watch him crush the Ironman on November 7th.
Here is part 1 of 3.
PART 2 COMING TOMORROW
Chris is on a mission to help others with special needs realize their dreams and compete in The Ironman and Special Olympics. One of his favorite charities, The Ironman Foundation, is teaming up with Chris to give 100% of donations for Chris to help his cause.
You can donate by visiting Chris' website here - https://chrisnikic.com/
He's only 1/5 of the way towards his goal so let's help him out if you're able to. Every little bit counts.
And be sure to wish him good luck for his race on November 7th.