After the Race: Terry Rajsombath’s Post-Race Thoughts, Fundraising Progress, and What’s Next on His List
Terry Rajsombath ’16 survived a devastating injury in Afghanistan. A bullet shattered his hip and left him unable to run. But he can walk, and he does—with great purpose. The 27-year-old URI student and Purple Heart recipient just completed the North American Ironman Championship in Quebec, where he swam 2.4 miles, bicycled 112 miles and walked a staggering 26.2 miles to raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation. Terry is featured in the fall issue ofQuadAngles (arriving soon!) and wrote to us after his race to tell us more:
My training and racing motivation:
While I was training, a mother from Ohio whose child suffers from neurofibromatosis (NF) reached out to me and I became acquainted with her child and his condition. One day, she sent me a video of her child watching an NF awareness video I had created. In her video, the mother asks the little boy, “Who do you wanna see?” The boy responds, “Him.” The mother asks, “Him who?” The child responds, “Terry.”
A few months later, a mutual local friend (with a son the same age) told me that the child had only recently begun to speak. One of the NF tumors was located on a region of his brain that prevented him from speaking. So, to hear him speak my name really touched my heart and kicked my butt in gear to make sure I would cross the finish line. Both of the little boys think I’m just about the coolest guy ever, so I had to finish the race, not for me but for them. I wanted to show them that even though life is unfair, and despite setbacks and heartache, if you can get a little creative and give it your all, you can make some of your dreams come true.
My race day experience:
The race was phenomenal. I killed my swim. My bike ride was amazing. Prior to the race, I was afraid that I was going to take the race too seriously. But I didn’t forget to enjoy the journey. On the downhills, while other racers were getting as low as possible on their bikes to become more aerodynamic and efficient, I would stand on my pedals as high as possible and enjoy the breeze as I zoomed down the Canadian highways with local drivers passing by and lush green mountains all around. I didn’t care about saving 10 or 20 seconds or looking like a professional. I did push myself. But I didn’t forget to have fun.
Quickly, what became difficult was the run. My hip was feeling sore but I didn’t feel as though it would give out on me. I wasn’t running, but I tried to maintain a very light jog, more like a quick shuffle. I managed to do so for the entire first lap, which was 13.1 miles, but I had to walk half of my second lap. I came in officially at 11:27:56 p.m.—after starting the race at 6:42 a.m. So the race took me 16:45:56—just 14 minutes and 3 seconds away from being disqualified as an Ironman.
I don’t usually care for applause, but I won’t deny that having an enormous crowd cheering my name was unbelievable—lights, music, and shouts of “Terry, you’re an inspiration!” I felt like I was in a movie or a dream. People were slapping me on the arm and the film crew had their lights and cameras on me as I marched toward the finish line. I remember pumping my fist in the air and hearing the crowd roar. It was an amazing feeling.
My fundraising efforts:
As an individual, I raised $5,315. Although, without the help of my friend Peter Lawrence, who helped raise raised funds through a charity banquet, I would have only brought in a little over $1,200 on my own. My team of 8, all raising money for the Children’s Tumor foundation, raised $51,612. And people are still contributing! (To donate, visit Terry’s fundraising page.)
Next, I have a few small projects I’d like to work on in order to create some small financial assets to help me achieve my next goal—Everest.