Emily Fideler is pictured at her parents’ Fontana home. She recently became the first participant in the Discover Whitewater Series to compete in a wheelchair. (Vicky Wedig photo)


By Daniel Schoettler


There were 700 participants in the Discover Whitewater Series this year, and one of them recorded a first for the annual event.

Emily Fideler, who is from from Fontana and has cerebral palsy, was the lone wheelchair participant in this year’s Discover Whitewater Series event as she participated in her first half marathon ever.

With the help of her helpers Jeremy and Melissa Houtakker pushing her as she sat in a specially-designed athletic wheelchair in the event, Fideler placed a finish time of 2:22:11.06 in the race.

“The experience was great. I loved the cheering and that kind of thing,” Fideler said.

Fideler added that she didn’t know what to expect from the experience because of the experience doing triathlons in the past.

“It was pretty fun,” Fideler said. “It was well equipped for me and the racing chair plus it was beautiful day, so it was nice.”

Another unique thing about Fideler’s attempt at her first half marathon is th help she had from My Team Triumph, with the duo that partnered with her being from the Wisconsin chapter of the organization. My Team Triumph is a non-profit organization that takes disabled athletes, called captains, and partners them with non-disabled athletes, called angels. Then, the teams compete in road races and triathlons.

“The captains are somehow bound to a specialized racing chair, and the angels are pushing them,” My Team Triumph race manager Kristen Wold said. “If we’re in a triathlon, they are in a trailer and we’re pulling them with a bike or pulling them while they swim and they (the captain) is in a boat.

This wasn’t the first go-around for Fideler in a race type setting. She also participated in the Lake Geneva Triathalon in September with the help of her angels.

“We do whole swimming, running and biking parts,” Fideler said. “They are powered to be a part of marathons and triathlons.”

Wold said the Discover Whitewater Series half marathon was Fideler’s furthest running race she has done.

Fideler said she would like to participate in other triathlons or marathons, particularly the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon, which is held in the Kenosha area.

“I would love to get them (MyTeam Triumph) to be a part of that,” Fideler said. “It is a very flat place,” adding she thinks it would be easy for the angels to push the captains.

Fideler is open to participating in other marathons that My Team Triumph participates in. She also said she would definitely participate in the Discover Whitewater series again.

“I like the Whitewater one because I knew some people in the community,” she said. “It was fun.”

Wold said that usually they try a race out and after the first year they consider running the same one again.

“We try to see if the course is a suitable course,” Wold said. “So hopefully we’ll do it again.”




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