A Michigan man is dubbed the 'father of the century' for his love for his 13-year-old daughter with cerebral palsy, completing a triathlon taking her over water and over land to conclude the grueling event.
But she is not the first to carry out a race of this type: "She participated in more than 70 events, including half marathons, triathlons and other outdoor events."
Van Beek and Maddy, who make up 'Maddy's team', participated in the 'Sanford and Sun' triathlon this Sunday.
Overall: The man completed a 0.3-mile swim, a 12.4-mile bike ride and a 3.1-mile run, with Maddy in his arms.
Van Beek, 39, told the Midland News that he "rounded out the events with his daughter, who can't walk or talk, because she loves being outside, being in the water, feeling the breeze in her hair and on her face".
Maddy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy two months after she was born.
The father added: “It was one of the worst days of our lives. Everyone prays for healthy children, but if she hadn't been the way she is, then we wouldn't be the people we are today."
“His outlook changed when he saw his daughter participate in a marathon four years ago, and I saw the joy on his face. I saw my daughter Maddy being pushed in the Grand Rapids marathon. But to see that she was so happy and how she enjoyed each event, she was more than I could imagine ”.
“Shortly after that day I quit smoking 2 packs a day to be better with Maddy. It was a long road, with many ups and downs, but we are doing very well”.
In an attempt to make his daughter happy, he began training for outdoor races in 2008. Van Beek, who was out of shape and a heavy smoker, realized it would also benefit him.
He persevered to get fit for his daughter, and raised money for charities along the way.
On her blog she wrote: “Emotion motivates me and inspires me to do the things I do. Call it inspiration, motivation, or whatever you want to call it, I call it Love."
“This will never go away…She is my heart and I am on her legs, even though one day she may not physically be able to be there with me, she will always be in my heart, quietly cheering me on”
“I think Madison changed people's lives. Together we make a good team ”.