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April 20th, 2010
04:04 PM ET

Fit Nation participant dishes on tri tribulations

For the past three months, six CNN viewers have been training to compete in the Nautica New York City Triathlon on July 18th in Manhattan.  Stanley Saballett, one of the six competitors, checks in during one of his training sessions in the great outdoors. 


January 19th, 2010
02:37 PM ET

I still can’t believe they picked me

By Stanley Saballett
CNN Fit Nation Challenge Participant

I am just a regular person who works every day. For some reason, I’ve always been shy of the limelight. Maybe it’s the old African proverb that says,”A camera can capture your soul,” or the fear of the sin of pride taking over, and ego. I don’t know but I’ve always shied away from the camera. A documentary was recently completed at the San Diego Youth Services transitional living program, Take Wing, where I am the program manager. The goal was to make people aware of the thousands of youth in San Diego living on our streets, homeless. I’ve overseen the program for the last 11 years and been a part OF the agency for more than twenty years but I still refused to be part of the documentary. That’s just not me.

Stanley Saballett is competing in the 2010 Fit Nation Challenge.

Stanley Saballett is competing in the 2010 Fit Nation Challenge.

But as I watched it, I was reminded of the struggle these youth have gone through. They swallowed their pride and showed that they were vulnerable and needed help. It made me think, if we need help, it doesn’t matter who we are, we should seek it. That same day, I went home and turned on CNN to find Dr. Gupta’s call for America to get fit. I wrote down the Web site casually, went to sleep and forgot about it. A few days had passed when I found my chicken scratch with the address. I had some extra time (it was 1:30 a.m.), and started sifting through some of the videos that had been submitted. It was Ricky’s video that ultimately inspired me to submit my own. The sincerity in his purpose came across and made me think: Maybe I should be doing this, for the Take Wing youth and myself.

I am always encouraging the youth to live healthy and to be healthy. I want the best for them, especially after everything they’ve lived through. It takes a lot to repair a broken spirit, but physical health definitely helps.

There were only supposed to be five competitors but CNN expanded the competition to include a sixth person. To think that CNN may have made that exception for me, it’s hard for me to believe. Now it’s my turn to be helped by training for and completing my very first triathlon. I will look to my friends, family, co-workers and of course the youth for encouragement and inspiration while I experience this life-changing challenge.

Now that I am back in San Diego, the real work begins. There is no trainer (yet) and there is no camera but I am still doing something every day to work out. Friday, I took the Take Wing youth up Cowles Mountain (highest peak in San Diego) for about a 2½-mile hike. All along the trails, they sent their words of encouragement, and it fills me.

Yesterday, my brother, the “bro-trainer,” pushed me while doing an 8-mile mountain bike ride through Rancho Penasquitos Trail. When we were done with the bike ride, I still had plans to run, but I could tell my brother had other ideas. “Go ahead and start running and I’ll ride beside you,” he said, supporting me the way only a big brother will do for his little (BIG) brother.

I am racing for the youth, my mom and for people with cancer. It’s a commitment I’ve made in my heart, although not public until now.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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