From reading my recent e-mails you would know that we had scheduled a swim/run contest with the Rincon Tri Club to be held yesterday in Ventura. Thanks to everyone who agreed to participate, we will re-schedule sometime later, but I wanted to let you know why it didn't happen.
A lot of you may have met Brian Smallwood at our UCSB/SB Tri contest, or maybe at one of our local races. If you have seen him racing he is the very fast guy with red hair. A passion for triathlons that is virtually unsurpassed. Very knowledgable and happy to share that knowledge with friends and fellow competitors. Brian was the go to guy at Rincon who was helping organize Sunday's Race. I will leave the rest to him!
Today, Friday, at approximately 1:30 in the afternoon, my son Shawn passed. I would like to take a moment to introduce Shawn to each of you, as my friends and extended family.
Shawn was born on December 6th, 1978. At the time of Shawn's birth, my wife Sharon and I were in the process of moving from La Mirada, in eastern LA county, to Camarillo. I was working in Oxnard, but we still had our home in La Mirada. I got the call at work at about 2:00 in the afternoon on a work day that Sharon had started labor and was being taken to the hospital, so I had to drive across ALL of LA counties worst rush hour traffic areas (pre 210 freeway and pre cell phones!)) with the knowledge that my wife was in the hospital preparing to give birth to our 1st child. Obviously I made it, and was there in plenty of time to make every mistake possible and somehow still have one of the greatest moments in my life- Shawn's birth.
Shawn showed a special character from the very beginning, he had an amazing smile and his presence was always friendly and soothing. Shawn made MANY friends as he grew, most of them remaining friends for life. One such friend, Matt, recounted a story of his first meeting with Shawn to me this week. They were both 4 years old and in preschool. Matt was a bit shy and a loner, but Shawn came to him in a play house where Matt was alone, and simply said "Can I be your friend?". Almost 27 years later, and it is still an indelible memory for Shawn, and it also sums up how Shawn treated everybody- "Can I be your friend?".
As Shawn continued to grow, it became increasingly apparent that he was not developing physically quite like the other boys. This was still before they had the ability for clinical diagnosis of Muscular Dystrophy, which is a disease that Shawn had, specifically Duchenne's or Becker's. With this disease, boys muscle fibers are in a state of constant atrophy. So as Shawn aged, he would loose more and more strength, starting with the lower extremities, and progressing through his body.
Shawn lost the ability to walk at 13, and over time slowly lost the ability to do more and more things that each of us take for granted.
As a middle school boy who could barely stand up, Shawn desperately fought to take out of a wheel chair, and was tormented mercilessly by class mates for being different. In spite of this he fought on, and made to the summer after 8th grade before moving into a chair.
As with most boys, Shawn wanted to be like his Dad, and to please his Dad- so not being able to be involved with sports had to be crushing, but as Shawn grew, instead of becoming bitter for what he did not have, and for all of the teasing and tormenting, he became more and more thankful for what he did have, and constantly sought out others that he saw in need of help and offered whatever he could give.
Shawn found a way to ride nearly every major roller coaster in North America,has been to Space Camp, had dinner with Jerry Buss (yes, that Jerry Buss), coached a YMCA basketball team, met with Marge Schott and the Cincinnati Red's ball team, spent time with 2 of his favorite NHL hockey players,and has had his own car and his own house (thank you, Paul).
But Shawn's greatest loves were his mother, his partner- Nikki, and his music.
Shawn loved to create and produce "alternative" music. His music was not for dancing, or for singing- but an expression of feelings. He has had his music played publicly on College radio, and wrote the musical score for a successful play that showed in Los Angeles theaters.
His relationship with his mother was amazing. He almost felt things before she would. At 16 years old, after the death of Sharon's father, Shawn took the initiative to look up some of Sharon's friends and call them to ask for their help in consoling her.
In 1999, at 21 years old, Shawn found Nikki in an alternative music chat room. 2 years later, they met for the 1st time, and have been together ever since. Their love for each other has been amazing to watch, as they literally gave 100% of themselves to each other.
Throughout his life, with a body that was constantly failing him, Shawn never really complained, and always looked forward to the next day.
So, this is Shawn- my son, my inspiration, my best friend.
If you were fortunate enough to meet him, wether he said it or not, you would have been instantly greeted with "Can I be you friend?"
Thank you for being my friends, and for you support in this time- Brian
Thank you, Brian, for sharing and on behalf of the Santa Barbara Triathlon Club I want to convey our sympathies to both you and Sharon. I know we will see you at just about every local race carrying the memory of Shawn with you.