Brothers Conner and Cayden Long have competed in 14 triathlons together. They are only nine and seven years old, they are teammates and friends.
In 2011, Connor decided he wanted to compete in triathalons, and wanted his younger brother to Cayden to join him. Cayden liked this idea and their parents agreed. There were some logistics to figure out. Cayden has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair to get around. Connor pulls Cayden in a raft for the swim, and Cayden has a trailer for the bike ride and the run. Connor supports Cayden physically and Cayden supports Conner emotionally. They are a team.
Team Long Brothers is a great example of inclusion. Kids with disabilities can compete and play alongside typical peers.
Racing together unites the boys in a way they both love. When Conner and Cayden wanted to enter the Iron Kids Triathlon, which has around 1400 participants, the officials said they were not sure if there was room for Cayden’s raft and trailer during the race. Conner said he would sit at home before he left his brother out. They were eventually cleared for the race.
Conner talks about his vision for including people with special needs and about what really bothers him, ” The one thing that makes me really mad, is when people walk down the room and say the “r-word”, if you know what that is. I just tell them that it doesn’t matter what he looks like on the outside it matters what’s on the inside and he still has regular feelings like we do, and he understands what you say about him. If people could race with people that can’t walk or talk or have any kind of autism, it might open eyes of people that don’t really care about it and maybe people that don’t care in the past will care in the future and actually do it with somebody.”
Many are following the Long brothers example and opening their eyes.Conner and Cayden won the 2012 Sports Illustrated Kids SportsKids of the Year. LeBron James took notice, saying the brothers are not only the SportsKids of the Year, but the Sportsman of the Year.
The brothers’ goal is to compete in IronMan. Rick and Dick Hoyt have shown that can be done.
Conner and Cayden’s love for each other is beautiful. We are in awe of both of these incredible young men and their family. We look forward to hearing more from the Long brothers!