Six-year-old Julian Brent of Lufkin isn't nervous about participating in her first triathlon next month, and she's not letting a neurological disorder that affects her mobility prevent her from doing her best.
"Not at all," she proclaimed.
In fact, she's eager about the opportunity, which includes swimming 50 meters, biking two miles and running three-quarters of a mile, competing against others in her age group at the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose City Kid's Triathlon in Whitehouse.
She likes "every single part" of the triathlon, she said.
Julian was born a triplet at 27 weeks gestation and diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 18 months old. She doesn't have good range of motion, and her swim stroke is unique. An adaptive bike allows her to pedal with her arms.
Still, it's a stark contrast from what doctors expected.
"When she was born, they told us not to expect Julian to ever open her hand or to ever walk," her mother, Thayleigh Brent, said. "We just see what she can do and give her every opportunity. We don't limit her, just because of what we were told."
Last year, Julian had spinal surgery to improve her mobility. As a result of the procedure, she had to relearn how to walk, sit and stand.
"To see her right now doing a triathlon, to see how far she's come, to have to learn those things over again, we surely never thought she'd do this," her mother said.
Julian was also recently diagnosed with high-functioning autism, in which signs and symptoms are less severe than other forms of autism on the spectrum.
"She's doing really great," Mrs. Brent said. "With the right physical and occupational therapies she just continues to shock everybody."
Mrs. Brent also is a triathlete and a health coach with the American Council on Exercise. She has competed in several races, including Ironman Texas. Julian's sister Olivia also will compete in the triathlon, while her brother, Lucas, will cheer his mother and sisters on.
Mrs. Brent's daughters were influenced by her athleticism, and the family stays active.
"I strongly believe what we instill in kids today will help give them a better chance through their lifetime," she said. "What's ingrained in us in childhood seems to stay with us in adulthood."
Exercise is presented as fun rather than as a task in the Brent household. They haven't forced structured activities.
"We just keep them active and making healthy choices," Mrs. Brent said. "It's totally appropriate at this age. We have fun riding bikes and going to the pool."
Mrs. Brent notes her daughter's determination keeps her successful despite a disability.
"It wasn't a goal we set for her," she said of the upcoming triathlon. "She'd say, ‘Mom, I want to do that.' When she puts her mind on doing something, she finds a way to make it happen."
IF YOU GO
What: Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose City Triathlon and Kid's Triathlon
When: 8 a.m. Sept. 10 (kids' race) and 8 a.m. Sept. 11 (adults)
Where: 16538 McElroy Road in Whitehouse
Registration/volunteer info: www.rosecitytri.com