MyTeam Triumph | Empowering Challenged Athletes Through Inclusivity

January 25, 2024

I’m so thrilled to introduce Terence Reuben, a tireless advocate for athletes of all abilities and a driving force behind the inspiring work of My Team Triumph! Terence is one of the cofounders of My Team Triumph; he’s also their current national board president, and the executive director of the organization’s West Michigan chapter. The work Terence has done to move the needle for those in the adaptive mobility industry is amazing! He’s transformed countless lives, broken down barriers, and fostered a sense of unity and inclusivity among athletes regardless of their physical abilities.

We’ll discuss:

  • The Mission of My Team Triumph | Championing Inclusivity and Authenticity
  • Evolution in Adaptive Mobility | Enhancing Athletic Experiences for Assisted Athletes
  • Future Endeavors | A Celebration of Triumph
  • How Can I Support My Team Triumph?

The Mission of My Team Triumph | Championing Inclusivity and Authenticity

Terence and a few friends first had the idea of starting a nonprofit back in 2008. Originally, their thoughts were simply, “How can we make a difference for an individual with disabilities?” But as they explored this idea and the opportunities they could potentially provide, the group narrowed it down to, “What are some things that we as athletes take for granted?” This marked the birth of My Team Triumph.

Captains & Angels | The Purpose of My Team Triumph

In My Team Triumph, there are Captains & Angels. Captains are athletes with disabilities, and Angels are the team that supports the Captains. In the beginning, My Team Triumph realized there were teams out in the world competing in events a one-on-one basis, but those teams seldom trained or raced together.

In our world, failure is not an option. We recruit three athletes to take a Captain through an event. We do everything from 5K’s, to marathons, from sprint triathlons to full Ironman distance events. We use Adaptive Star’s specialty equipment to take our Captains through experiences many would take for granted.

Terence’s Vision | Authenticity & Not Needing to Use the Word ‘Inclusive’

To Terence, the biggest word that stands out in My Team Triumph’s mission statement is “authentic.” Something the organization aims to do as part of their mission is provide individuals with disabilities authentic relationships, whether they’re a:

  • Teenager
  • Young Adult
  • Older Adult
  • Veteran

My Team Triumph actually has a separate category for veterans because they recognize how important it is to take care of this demographic and provide them with opportunities for athletic experiences.

My Team Triumph has been looking at the the bigger picture and asking, “How do we level the playing field when it comes to inclusion?”

Terence noted that inclusivity can mean different things to different people. He grew up in South Africa; inclusion there was primarily a racial issue. For some, it could be a religious or economic issue. Inclusivity, in our case, is assisting an individual with a disability and figuring out how we can help them participate in events and activities that we just take for granted.

I think we’ve come a long way over the years, but we’ve got so much more to go in order to create this level playing field when it comes to inclusion. My perfect world would be where we don’t have to even use the word ‘inclusion,’ that’s how inclusive we are.

Evolution in Adaptive Mobility | Enhancing Athletic Experiences for Assisted Athletes

The evolution of adaptive mobility equipment has been a game-changer in the world of athletics, particularly for athletes like Team Agar. Our technological progress at Adaptive Star has been advanced by feedback from not just athletes, but from the people and organizations who work with them. This has greatly enhanced the racing experience and helped level the playing field of inclusivity.

Advancing Athletes | The Evolution of Adaptive Mobility Equipment

Over the last 8 years, but especially within the last 4, Terence and I have seen amazing advancements in adaptive mobility equipment, redefining what’s possible for individuals with disabilities. It used to be that strollers and joggers weren’t allowed in races. Simply put, it’s becoming more common to see athletes with disabilities participating in sporting events using Adaptive Star’s equipment!

From lightweight, durable push chairs designed for speed and maneuverability, to bike trailers, our industry’s advancements have leveled the playing field like never before. Terence and I were even discussing what it would take to improve or create a seat for the rafting portion of an Ironman or triathlon event. After all, we’ve already got a chair that can convert to a bike trailer…

Training and Triumph | The Journey of Assisted Athletes

Terence and I also discussed what it’s like for athletes with disabilities to train for competitive sports. It’s a detail that’s often overlooked; Johnny Agar walks the last mile of his races. Training for this is a demanding process, one that involves both grueling physical preparation and considerable mental fortitude.

The other commonly overlooked aspect of the race is something we call “transition time.” Between events, the Angels have to transition the equipment of the Captain, whether that’s going from a chair to a bike or a boat.

It has helped that I’m a physical therapist, so I know a lot about the equipment, the seating, and the positioning that’s more ideal for those longer distances. Teri and I have talked a lot about the small things we can do to adapt the existing equipment to take care of current and future needs.

Navigating transition takes a lot of careful coordination and planning, but it can be one of the more rewarding aspects of the race. Terence has seen both sides of transition as an athlete and crew member. With the Agar family, they’ve gotten transition time down so well, they’re usually just waiting on Jeff. Terence feels the best transition times are the ones where he can encourage and chat with the Captain.

Future Endeavors | A Celebration of Triumph

My Team Triumph is expanding, and they’re thrilled to celebrate the resilience, strength, and the indomitable spirit of their athletes through an event called the Captain’s Ball. Along with this celebration, Terence hinted at some exciting future plans that will involve exploring new opportunities to expand My Team Triumph’s goal of creating a more inclusive world of athletics across the globe.

Celebrating Champions | The Origin and Significance of the Captain’s Ball

The Captain’s Ball is an innovative celebration that My Team Triumph initiated to honor the achievements and resilience of their Captains. Terence and others realized that outside of race day, they didn’t really get a chance to celebrate their Captains or their achievements. This led to the idea of throwing a ball.

We always highlight captains over the years. Some will come through and deliver a keynote address for us (like Johnny Agar or Matt Smith). Sometimes we celebrate the captains we’ve lost during the year. A few of our captains have passed on, but we celebrate their lives; they had such a good time racing with us, and they’re always with us in spirit.

The ball originally began in West Michigan and was held in early May. There was a national championship 25K race held around that time, and most of the Captains and attendees would show up to the ball in their running shoes – they had all been training that morning.

Wearing running shoes to the ball became a fun tradition, and one that really speaks to My Team Triumph’s goal of leveling the playing field and cultivating authentic relationships.

Expanding Horizons | Unveiling the Global Ambitions of My Team Triumph

My Team Triumph is not just a community; it’s a movement. Fueled by their vision of inclusivity in sports, they have plans to expand their reach beyond national boundaries. With a strong foundation of victories and a plethora of inspiring athlete narratives, it sounds like My Team Triumph is planning to take its mission across the globe.

Terence wouldn’t go into too much detail, but he’s saying the journey ahead promises:

  • Pushing the envelope for travel
  • Multiple teams
  • Extensive road surfaces

As My Team Triumph takes strides towards this exciting global frontier, their commitment to empowering athletes with disabilities will always remain at the heart of their endeavors.

How Can I Support My Team Triumph?

There are many ways you can support My Team Triumph and contribute to their mission of inclusivity. They have a national website and Facebook page. On the national website, you can access chapters like West Michigan where Terence is from, or find whichever one is closest to your area.

You can help by:

  • Learning more about the organization
  • Becoming an Angel or a Captain
  • Contributing financially
  • And much more

Thank you so much for joining me! My Team Triumph is such a testament to Terence’s commitment and service to athletes with disabilities on a global scale. His mission goes beyond sports and represents making real, inclusive changes in our society. Through My Team Triumph’s relationship with Adaptive Star, we’ve seen so many lives transformed, whether that’s been through athletic participation, financial contribution, or simply fostering these wonderful, authentic relationships.

We look forward to continue sharing our journey in adaptive mobility with you!