Meet Brady Murray: Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome
Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,
I want to introduce you to some awesome Moms and Dads as I write these letters to you. I’m doing my best to balance being a husband to your mom, a good dad to you kids, and an athlete, but there are some amazing people in the world who are doing these things too. I think it’s important for you to meet them.
This is Brady Murray:
As I watched Brady’s story unfold this October on the Ironman live stream I was struck by his journey towards “something bigger than himself”. It’s people like Brady who make triathlon special: ordinary people, with powerful stories, doing incredible things, serving others.
He formed the nonprofit RODS racing (Racing for Orphans with Down Syndrome).
I had the honor of talking with Brady recently. Here’s our chat:
Chad: Were you an athlete before triathlon and how long have you been racing?
Brady: I grew up in a small town in Southeast Idaho where sports were a big part of my childhood. I enjoyed playing all sports but had a love for baseball. I played baseball all throughout high school as well as for a semi pro team during and after college. It wasn’t until I moved to Boise in 2008 that I was introduced to triathlon.
Chad: How did life change when you became a father?
Brady: Life couldn’t be better since Andrea and I became parents. We have 3 children, Brynlee 7, Nash 5, and Ridge 3. They are all very special to me and have taught me so much in their own little ways. Probably the biggest way life changed for me after having Brynlee is I found myself much more focused on trying to be as good a person as I could knowing that I had a little one watching my every move.
Chad: You and your wife Andrea have 3 children now, including your son Nash who has Down Syndrome. How do you two manage your time as parents, a married couple, and athletes?
Brady: Our trick to making this happen is very simple, early to bed and early to rise! Having young children, they typically go to be very early and we follow right after them. It works great! This allows us to get up early, get our workouts in as well as prepare for the days activities before our children wake up. Nash has become an early riser with us most mornings which is great. He will typically hangout with us while we are riding the trainer or running on the treadmill. By getting up early it allows us to train, put in a full days work and still have the evenings be family time.
Chad: Were there hard times when you weren’t sure what you were supposed to be learning as a father and husband?
Brady: Absolutely. It’s common for me to have days when I question whether or not I’m living up to what I could be. I ask myself often if I’m doing as good as I really could be as a father and a husband or learning all that I could with this special time of my life. I feel an incredible sense of urgency to make the most out of each and every day, especially while my children are young. I know that the days when they are young and so impressionable are finite and I don’t want them to go to waste.
Chad: How did the idea for RODS Racing come about?
Brady: It was shortly after we learned of the hundreds of children with Down syndrome living in orphanages and mental institutions throughout the world. I had no idea that it was common practice in many cultures that upon finding out a newborn has Down syndrome, that the parents give that child up. It was heartbreaking to say the least. I spent many days and nights thinking about this situation and trying to find a way to help. It was early one morning when I was laying in bed that the idea came to me to dedicate my racing to help these children find loving homes. Ideas continued to come in the following weeks and before I knew it, RODS Racing was born.
Chad: What do you want people to know about children with Down Syndrome?
Brady: Down syndrome is not a bad thing, it’s actually a very good thing! People have asked me if I could make it so Nash didn’t have Down syndrome, would I? The answer is absolutely not! Nash as well as others who have Down syndrome have unique talents and abilities that many of us don’t have. They have a way to influence others to become their best selves. I find that when people are around Nash that they are more kind, loving and patient. He has a way to bring that out in people that I’ve never seen anybody else do and he’s only 5! I would encourage anyone to take a moment to get to know someone who has Down syndrome. You will learn much from being around that person.
Chad: What do you hope your own children take away from yours and Andrea’s dedication to serving others?
Brady: My hope is they will be compassionate and loving towards everyone and accept people for who they are. We are all in need of words of encouragement or a helping hand at some time during our lives. I hope they never pass up an opportunity to be that person for somebody and appreciate those who are kind to them.
Chad: How does triathlon play a part in those life lessons?
Brady: Triathlon has such a similitude to life. There are times during a race that are some of the most motivating and exciting times that one can experience. There will also be times during that same race that your body is telling you to stop and give up. It’s what you do during those difficult times that will determine your ability to compete. Such is life. Enjoy those exciting times, but know that how you decide to react during those difficult times defines you. Being told that my newborn son has Down syndrome was among the most difficult times of my life. However, what I’ve been fortunate to experience and learn because of being a father of a son who has Down syndrome has been among the biggest blessings of my life.
Chad: How has Nash, and fatherhood in general, changed your perspective on life and sport?
Brady: I’ve learned that there has to be a balance in all things. I remember growing up and my early adult years that baseball was life to me. I lived for it. Now that I’m a dad, I realize it’s not about doing what Brady Murray wants to do all the time, but to focus on what’s in the best interest of my family as a whole.
Chad: How can others get involved with RODS Racing and your mission?
Brady:It starts with a desire to become part of something bigger than any one person, a cause. We are fortunate to have some incredible individuals who have a sincere desire to help that make up the RODS Racing team. With that being said, we are anxious to find more who are willing to be a voice for these kids! You can visit our website to learn how you can become involved. www.rodsracing.org
11. Outside of RODS, what’s important in life to Brady Murray? Family is at the center of most of our activities. As a family, we love the outdoors. We spend a lot of time camping and fishing throughout Idaho. I also love what I do professionally as a financial planner. We also enjoy being active in our church.
Chad: What was on your mind as you crossed the line in Kona?
Brady: Kona was such a special experience for me. All week while in Kona I felt I had been entrusted to represent all of the orphans with Down syndrome throughout the world come race day. I was their voice and their hope. I didn’t want to let them down. In particular, I was racing for a little girl who I had met in a Peruvian orphanage earlier that year. She was heavy on my mind all day. Coming down the final stretch that last mile I couldn’t help but become emotional. The faces of these kids that had become so dear to me kept flashing in my mind. Then when I finally crossed the finish line I saw Andrea and Nash as well as the rest of my family. It was the pinnacle of all my athletic events in my life and among the most cherished moments of my life. Ironman and MyList presented me with a check for $20,000 to go towards the adoption of the little girl I raced for. The moment is hard to put into words. I simply know that if we are willing to put ourselves out there and work for something we are passionate about, doors will be opened and miracles will take place. I learned in essence that anything is possible!
Chad: Whats on your race schedule this year?
Brady: I’m excited for the upcoming race season. Andrea and I are actually planning on doing every race this year together which will be great! There is also a local triathlon that has a kids race the day before Andrea and I will race. Our goal is to have all 3 of our kids participate which will be incredible! My specific personal goals for 2013 are to break 4 hours 40 minutes in a 70.3 distance as well as break 1 hour 27 minutes in a half marathon. I’ve kicked around the idea of trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon but haven’t completely got my arms around that one yet.
I love you,