We hear the word "hero" so often anymore that we forget its true meaning. In my mind, a hero is someone whose selfless, courageous act lifts up the life of another. That sums up Connor and Cayden Long, two brothers from White House, Tennessee, who were recently named Sports Illustrated's 2012 Sports Kids of the Year.
The boys compete in triathalons. But here's the catch. Since 7-year-old Cayden has hypertonic cerebral palsy, he's unable to talk or walk. Yet 9-year-old brother Connor wanted a sport they could compete in — together. When their mother read about a triathalon for kids, Connor begged her to let them enter.
That's how their racing began, with Connor swimming while pulling Cayden in a raft, with Connor running while pushing Cayden in his racing chair, with Connor cycling and Cayden gleefully riding tandem behind his big brother, smiling. They've competed in 14 triathalons thus far, and now when they arrive, people greet them with high-fives and requests for pictures. The heart they exhibit provides inspiration and hope.
It also led to their honor as SI's Sports Kids of the Year.
Connor takes the accolades in stride. He competes, he says, because he can do so with his brother, just like any other kid.