From homeless to Paralympic Games hopeful, triathlete beats all odds

MIDTOWN, Manhattan -- In just a few weeks, the city will be filled with triathletes competing in the 19th annual New York City Triathlon.

If the thought of tackling an event like that is overwhelming, the man you'll meet tonight, a double amputee, and a U.S. para swimmer will inspire you to get out and push your limitations.

Triathlete Roderick Sewell has his sights on gold. Hoping to take home a medal in the 100-meter breaststroke in the 2020 Paralympic Games.

Roderick, who is not only a swimmer, a triathlete, he's also a double-amputee.

“I was born with deformities in both legs, my feet were twisted 360 and doctors gave my mom two options, either amputate my legs or have me in a wheelchair.”

His mother chose to give Roderick the opportunity to walk, and had his legs amputated when he was one-and-a-half years old.

While she earned a decent income, she could not afford prosthetics.

She quit her job and filed for unemployment in California so that state services would cover Roderick's prosthetics.

“My mom sacrificed a lot to get prosthetics that I needed to walk, and at the same time came with a heavy cost.”

They ended up homeless, living shelter to shelter.

“At the same time that we were homeless we got started with Challenged Athletes Foundation. They got me involved in sports which I wasn’t doing up until 9-10 years old.”

Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides people with physical disabilities equipment and opportunities to find success through sports, also provided Roderick with his first running blades.

So, while most kids run at age 2, Roderick ran for the first time when he was 10.

He then picked up hand-cycling.

Swimming was his last sport to tackle when he was a teen. After seeing Rudy Garcia Tolson, a 4-time para swimmer excel, the fire was lit.

His competitive edge kicked in, and he's been swimming ever since- winning titles around the country- and winning hearts where ever he goes including here at Life Time Athletics.

“There's always a day walking down the street where someone says you inspire me, and I can't help but want to do what I’m doing if I know someone else will be affected.”

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