A double-arm amputee athlete is making his way through Central Florida as a part of his 6-state “Tour to Inspire.”
Hector Picard, normally known for being the only double-arm amputee to compete in an Iron Man race, is shifting his gears to inspire kids in need.
“I’ve been racing for and on behalf of children with disabilities or young people going through difficult times,” Picard said. “It’s a lot more draining than running one hundred miles. Some of these kids, and some of these young people, to see them so positive during tough times really is emotionally draining.”
Picard’s month-long tour has taken him through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama Georgia, and now Florida. Along his ride, Picard delivers inspirational speeches, rides with cycling clubs, and presents his own earned race medals to kids at local hospitals.
Picard arrived at Shands Hospital in Gainesville from Tallahassee Wednesday. During his visit he met 17-year-old Kayne Finley, an athlete battling diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DPIG).
“It’s been tough recently, mentally it’s been tough, because I have symptoms and I want to get rid of them,” Finley said. “But it’s not able because research is not there. There are so many unknowns. I hate saying that I don’t know what’s going on or what’s going to happen. So as a 17-year-old that has kind of lived a little, you just have to keep going. If you stop, it’s not worth it.”
Just like Picard, Finley does not let his obstacles hold him back. He is now back on his school’s varsity swim and volleyball teams.
“Seeing Hector and Kayne together, to kind of know there is a comrade in arms, I think that was very important,” said Kirsten Finley, Kayne’s mother.
To reward Finley for his perseverance, Picard awarded Finley his first marathon medal.
“I think we both have that perseverance and inspiration just to keep going every day,” Finley said.
On Thursday Picard joined Gainesville Tri-Club for a social ride before he rides down for his next stop in Ocala. Picard’s tour will end in Miami.
“I want to do something for these kids,” Picard said. “I want to be their role model. I want them to look at me and say, ‘if he can do it, I can do it.’”