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  • The best stories in sports

  • This is an E60 feature presentation

  • [Referee whistle]

  • [Coach yelling]

  • "Side step, side step! Backpedal!"

  • None of us wants to be on a sideline

  • We want to play

  • We want to be together

  • That's what brothers Connor and Cayden Long wanted,

  • to play together

  • To be one.

  • It was really hard for them to bond

  • Connor wished that Cayden could come out and play with him more.

  • and I think that that had been on his mind more than what we know as a parent.

  • 8 year old Connor and 6 year old Cayden compete as a team,

  • an idea born from one brother's desire to connect with the other

  • Interviewer: When strangers look at your brother, what do you think they think?

  • Connor: That it must be tough for us to have a special needs kid and for me because he's my brother

  • Interviewer: But what do you think?

  • Connor: That we will try to give him the best life that he could ever have

  • Jenny and Jeff Long found out in 2005

  • that two year old Connor would have a younger brother.

  • Oh, two boys, they're gonna be best friends,

  • they're gonna be riding bicycles together

  • they're gonna be doing all this stuff. They're close in age.

  • I was so excited!

  • Shorty after Cayden was born, his parents realized something was wrong.

  • His muscles began to spasm involuntarily,

  • his eyes began to cross.

  • At four months old, they received the diagnosis:

  • cerebral palsy.

  • The doctor automatically told me that he was-had an IQ of 50

  • and that he would live with us forever.

  • He's not gonna talk, he's not gonna walk

  • When you're a young mother, you are already scared

  • You're a nervous wreck when they tell you that.

  • It's hard.

  • Well, it hurt as a dad, you know.

  • You're all excited, you just had a kid.

  • Then your morale gets busted.

  • You want your kids to play ball and ride bikes.

  • You want them to do all that stuff.

  • Well, I knew my kid couldn't do that.

  • [Dad's voice] "You wanna go ridin'?"

  • As they grew older, Connor asked: "Why can't Cayden walk yet?"

  • "Why isn't Cayden potty-trained?" You know, stuff like that. And we would explain to him.

  • Connor: "Tow truck rescues many vehicles!"

  • Connor: "You want to go to school or home?"

  • Cayden: "Home."

  • Connor: "Home?!"

  • [Connor signing] "Do you want to play?....."

  • Mom Jennifer: "Cayden has sign language,

  • a little bit of sign language

  • Because they know each other, sometimes Cayden doesn't even need sign language.

  • The boys spend as much time together as they can.

  • Still, often when Connor goes out to play, Cayden is left behind.

  • Interviewer: "What was one thing you really wanted?"

  • Jennifer (mother): "Acceptance. I wanted everybody to treat him with respect and dignity, just like any other child."

  • Connor: "People don't realize that when you're special needs in a wheelchair, you won't be able to get out that much."

  • Last spring, Connor saw an ad for a children's triathlon in nearby Nashville.

  • That led to an idea.

  • Connor was asking questions like, "Well, what are these kids doing?"

  • Mom: "They're racing."

  • Connor: "Oh, that's cool! Can I do it with Cayden?"

  • The answer was yes.

  • June 5th, Nashville.

  • Team Long Brothers competed in the four lap swim with a raft.

  • Three mile bike, with a trailer.

  • And half-mile run, with a stroller.

  • To ensure their safety, a coach raced alongside the boys.

  • I didn't know if Connor would be strong enough to pull Cayden while swimming, then pull him on the bike, and then push him on the run.

  • [Girl]: "It looked really hard, because we have one of those strollers

  • and I know that I'd quit if I had to do that all the time."

  • The brothers came in 31st out of 32 competitors in their age group.

  • [Crowd cheering]

  • Crossing the finish line in 43 minutes, 10 seconds.

  • It was the first time that they had finished something together,

  • as brothers.

  • Interviewer: "What was that first race like?"

  • Connor: "Pretty inspiring to some people,

  • and it was cool to me that I took on the challenge to pull my younger sibling."

  • [Cayden singing]

  • That finish was just the start.

  • The boys began training and upgraded their equipment.

  • Two weeks later, they were at their next race in downtown Nashville.

  • [Crowd cheering, bells ringing]

  • Coach's voice: "Great job, Connor!"

  • Connor: "I'm getting stitch."

  • Coach: "You're getting what, honey?"

  • Connor: "Stitch."

  • Coach: "Okay, then slow it down just a little bit."

  • Connor: "Doing good, Cayden!"

  • Mom's voice: "Here they come. Woooooooo!"

  • [Crowd cheering] [Clapping]

  • [Cowbells ringing]

  • Crowd's Cheer: Goooo Connor!!!

  • Coach: "Your stitch gone?"

  • Connor: "No, but I got this."

  • [Crowd applause]

  • [Cheering]

  • Connor: "Did you have a good time, buddy?"

  • In a few months, they found it.

  • Racing united them in a way they'd never shared before.

  • So, they wanted to be a part of the biggest race they could find.

  • The IronKids Triathlon, with a field of 1,400.

  • With so many children, organizers told the family they were uncertain

  • if there was room for Cayden's raft and trailer on the course.

  • When they told us that, I told Connor, "Hey, Cayden might not be able to do this race with you.

  • Would you consider doing it by yourself?"

  • I didn't want him to come in last everytime. You want to boost your kid's, you know, you wanna boost him up some.

  • and he said, 'No, he would sit at home first, before he left his brother out.'

  • Coach's voice: "A lot of eight year old boys would want to go out there and win.

  • He's going out there with the love that he has for his brother to help him participate in the event."

  • Connor: "If he isn't going to do it, I'm not going to do it."

  • Interviewer: "Why not?"

  • Connor: "Cause I like doing it with Cayden and I feel bad for him sitting on the sidelines,

  • while I'm racing without him."

  • Dad's voice: "When you have a special needs kid, to a lot of people, they're an outcast.

  • A lot of siblings and even family members, they're kind of ashamed, like embarrassed of him.

  • To hear my kid say that, you know, it meant a lot.

  • Organizers eventually cleared the boys to race.

  • September 11th, Alpharetta, GA, the Iron Kids Triathlon.

  • Interviewer: "When you start a race, what are you thinking about?"

  • Connor: "Finishing. Not 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Just being proud that we finished."

  • Connor's voice: "When I see him smiling and laughing, that means he is having a good time."

  • From the pool to the pavement,

  • the water to the trailer.

  • Female voice: "Yes Connor! Go!"

  • Across a 2.5 mile course,

  • the team of Connor and Cayden Long,

  • finished last.

  • But as brothers,

  • They finished.

  • Together. As one.

  • I know it did something inside him, I know it changed him.

  • With the help of his brother, he has found something that he can do.

  • Connor: "Say, 'I love you....I love you'

  • Cayden signs "I love you"

  • Connor: "You love bubba? Give bubba a good hug."

  • You know every kid needs to experience something good in their life

  • You just got to figure out what that is.

  • We figured it out, you know well, Connor figured it out.

  • Connor: "Come on bud, come on!"

The best stories in sports

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Team Long Brothers The Journey of Brotherly Love!

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    Irene Kan posted on 2015/09/26
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