Aaron Wallen stuns people when he explains that he’ll be doing the Kona Ironman Triathalon coming up Oct. 13.
He’s doing it to raise $50,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation, so three children with life-threatening illnesses can have their wishes fulfilled.
The Ironman is aptly named, comprising a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile marathon - all in one day. The Kona Ironman Triathlon is a world championship event because the folks who compete in this race first qualified at other competitions.
The Manoa resident trains three days a week with a grueling schedule: seven and a half hours on Thursdays and Saturdays, and five hours on Sundays.
“It’s the pinnacle of triathlons,” admits Wallen. “It’s tiring. You go through highs and lows in training. Sometimes you feel invincible, and sometimes you feel so tired and overwhelmed.”
The last time Wallen did an Ironman was 12 years ago. After graduating college and then marrying wife Kathrine the following year, he stopped racing so he could develop his career and start a family.
Wallen, former director of Make-A-Wish from 2004 to 2007, ignited his interest in competitive events when the current Make-A-Wish president, Cindy Quinn, wanted to do the Tinman, which is about a fourth of the length of the Ironman. Wallen, Quinn and Make-A-Wish executive director and triathlete Lynn Brown banded together in January 2006 and agreed to do the Tinman together. Completing the 800-meter swim, 40-kilometer bike ride and 10-kilometer run in two hours gave Wallen the inspiration to get back and compete again.
In July, he sent letters to his friends, family and colleagues in the construction business to ask for donations, and so far he has raised $29,765.
“Hopefully people will find this inspiring as to what small businesses can do,” says Wallen, who worked for Haas Insulation for nine years before he bought the company in 2005.
The personal connection that Wallen has with Make-A-Wish is more than his service on their board.
“One of the ‘Wish’ children, Kaela Teho (pictured above), is in the same grade as my son,” said Wallen. His son Alex is 8 years old, and daughter Shelby is 5.
To support his efforts, make checks payable to Make-A-Wish and mail them to PO Box 1877, Honolulu, HI 96805, and write Aaron Wallen Ironman in the memo line.
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