Race for Chase 2021 Youth Triathlon

Inspiring Young Athletes and Keeping Chase’s Memory Alive


Diving to New Lengths: Pictured is AJ Farrell running out of the water after completing the swimming portion of the Race for Chase Triathlon.

Haley Flynn

     As summer approaches, many parents scramble to find their children activities outside of the house where they can have fun and be active over the break. Milford offers many options for outdoor activities, with one of the best being the Race for Chase Youth Triathlon, run by the Woodruff Family YMCA.

     Race for Chase is a free six week program for children ages 6-12. Children participating learn about keeping a healthy lifestyle and the sport of triathlons, all while having fun and meeting new people.

Mrs. Beth Gilman, assistant principal, has two children that have participated in Race for Chase for two years each. According to Gilman, Jackson and Nicholas have built a love for the program and speak about how it’s the most important thing they’ve done to date. Gilman also adds, “Race for Chase is a strong character building program that capitalizes on Chase’s love of triathlons and honors his memory.”

     The program is non competitive and, “A large part of the program is building team spirit and how to encourage each other to bring out the best in all and how to be a great teammate,” says YMCA Health and Wellness Director Jennifer Fleischer.

     The program runs from June 21 to July 30, and the race day is July 31. The race is held at Camp Sloper in Southington, CT. 

According to the Hartford Courant in an article from January of 2020, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and South Carolina have YMCA’s that have participate in Race for Chase impacting over 1,000 athletes just this summer alone.

     Race for Chase is run through the Chase Michael Anthony Kowalski Sandy Hook Memorial Foundation, and is meant to honor Chase Kowalski. Chase was a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December of 2012.

     Chase loved to be active and participated in triathlons, and even won his first one. This program honors his memory and helps kids of all experience gain the skills to participate in a youth triathlon. 

    Chase’s mom, Rebecca Kowalski says, “The loss of Chase was devastating for our family. The foundation has given our family a purpose, and a platform to change people’s lives and honor the spirit of Chase. Personally it has changed my life too, I was never an athlete, and I was inspired by all of the people that were inspired by Chase. I was determined to get healthy, grief takes its toll on you both mentally and physically and exercising was the escape I needed to find who I was after losing Chase.” 

     Chase’s mom encourages all to become involved in triathlons because of the rewards mentally and physically as well as being taught “Drive, Determination & Dedication.”

     Fleischer says, “Throughout the six week program, the athletes swim, bike and run.  Even though they are training, we incorporate a lot of games to keep it fun! The athletes learn about triathlons and the transitions that take place during a race. We also talk about nutrition and how to fuel your body for the activities.”

     Because of the program’s popularity, there is an application that needs to be filled out and submitted for a child to be considered. This year’s participants were informed if they were selected for this program in early May.

     Applications for next year will be released in April of 2022 for those who may be interested to apply. 

     Kowalski says, “The best thing you can do is help support your local YMCA, volunteer to help the Race4Chase program, become a counselor or organize a community fundraiser to benefit CMAK foundation and the local Race4Chase program. Sign up for our newsletter at CMAKFoundation.org to see when we host our next event.

     Click here to learn more about the Race for Chase Program.