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A 7-year-old Pennsylvania boy who suffers from cerebral palsy (CP) is training to complete a triathlon with the help of his family, including his best friend, service dog Joei.
Fox 29 reported that Shane Popiny, a first-grader in Lansdale, Pa., suffered a stroke when he was a baby, which resulted in CP and limited use of his right side.
“When he came out of the womb, he was blue … but they said he was fine,” Colleen Popiny, Shane’s mom, told the news station.
The boy learned sign language at a young age because he couldn’t talk, and he didn’t start walking until he was 3 and a half.
Although Shane still suffers from febrile seizures when his body overheats— a condition Joei can alert the boy’s parents to— Colleen said her son doesn’t let his medical issues define him and that “he just keeps on going.”
This attitude has helped him persevere in training for a triathlon, Fox 29 reported. He’s been running on the treadmill at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and cycling in his neighborhood.
Shane has been getting Botox in his legs, which has helped him walk, but its efficacy has waned, Colleen said, so surgery may be in his future. But for now, the family is looking forward to his next hurdle, the triathlon.
For the race, for which Fox 29 didn’t report the location or name, Joei will accompany Shane every step of the way.
"My husband will help him get out, go to the bike and get it done, show the world what he can do," Colleen told the news station.
"We cannot wait to see his face when he goes through the finish line,” she added. “I think the sense of he accomplished something so big when he was basically told he probably wouldn't be able to walk when he was younger. It's a huge deal."