Coach competes in Ironman to raise awareness for 5-year-old with muscle disease

Miami Valley News

CEDARVILLE, Ohio (WDTN) — Cedarville University’s head men’s soccer coach completed his first Ironman in honor of a five-year-old with a rare muscle disease.

Brett Faro finished his first Ironman in Tulsa, Oklahoma in May in 11 hours, 7 minutes, and 53 seconds, coming in 248th out of more than 1,700 participants. He started training in July 2020 for the event for at least 10 hours a week.

“I talk with my players all the time about trying to do hard things and trying to challenge yourself,” says Faro who’s finishing up his tenth season as soccer coach.

Last month, he put his endurance to the test for the Ironman–a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2 mile run.

“We want to compete at the highest level that we possibly can,” says the coach. “Ultimately if it’s just about the game, or in this case just about the race, I think it’s hollow. I think it has to be about more than that.”

For Faro, the Ironman was about Fritz Krieger. Faro and his wife are friends with Fritz’s parents, Bryant and Sarah. The Krieger’s five-year-old son is battling Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a crippling muscle disorder that eventually attacks the heart and lungs.

One out of every 5,000 boys is diagnosed with it, and many rarely live past their mid 20s.

“They have a slogan– Strength is more than muscle,” says Faro who wore that slogan on his suit during the Ironman to spread awareness, encourage others, and represent Fritz. “That message really resonated for me.”

While Fritz lacks the physical strength that Faro has, he packs a punch to fight the rare disease.

“During Ironman training you spend a lot of time by yourself either on the bike or on a run. It just kind of came into my mind–him and their family and just the reality that he would probably never be able to do something like this and challenge himself in that way or push his body in that way,” states Faro.

Faro used the triathlon to push himself and keep in mind the physical challenges Fritz faces while also living out the ideals and expectations he has for his soccer players.

“I ask my players to do a lot. I ask them to be disciplined. I ask them to be committed. I ask them to be tough. I ask them to challenge themselves and do hard things because I think that’s where growth comes from,” says Faro. “I think it has to be about a greater purpose. I think it has to be about other people, and I think it has to be about using your gifts and abilities in an honoring way.”

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