Found on 10 News San Diego
SAN DIEGO – Ten-year-old Heaven Vallejos was on a mission to do one thing at the Spring Sprint Triathlon on Sunday: “Kick butt!” she said, and then giggled at herself.
As she jumped into the water at Mission Bay, you never would have guessed she swam for the first time just two months earlier.
Her dad Frank had his video camera rolling in one hand and his cellphone recording in the other. It was one of his proudest moments.
“I’m just overjoyed and overwhelmed and just so very proud of her,” he said. “That’s my baby girl.”
It was scary for him at first because his daughter cannot see. She was born blind. They both had to trust her guide, who held her hand to the water and sat in the front of a tandem bike.
Heaven started running in the fall when she joined her Fresno school’s cross-country team. Practicing was painful at times.
“Coach helped me out with that. Ran into a fence accidentally because I thought he said a different direction than he said,” she said.
When 10News’ sister station in Fresno shared her story, a San Diegan saw her running and heard her say she wanted to be a triathlete.
He called the race director who then called the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Blind Stoker Club. They flew the family out so she could tackle her dream head-on.
She could not see the finish line she crossed or the medal she earned, but that did not matter.
“It didn’t matter,” she said. “Never does, never has.”
And it clearly never will. She plans to be a Paralympian.
When asked how she though she did on her mission at the race she said, “I kicked butt!”