Overcoming Hurdles: Boy battling childhood health issues to take on triathlon

Lansdale, Pa. (WTXF) Running a triathlon is no easy feat. It takes time training, dedication, and determination.

One 7-year-old boy is overcoming some huge hurdles to participate in a competition at the local high school later this month

FOX 29's Dawn Timmeney spent some time with this pint sized stroke survivor.

7-year-old Shane Popiny is definitely ready to roll. This first grader is training for a triathlon, with mom, Colleen, and his service dog Joei by his side, as he hits the sidewalk on his bike.

"First you have to swim, then you bike and then you run, and when you cross the finish line you get a trophy," Shane said of the event.

This bright eyed boy has a winning spirit, but he's faced an uphill battle since the day he was born.

 Shane suffered a pediatric stroke at birth, which wasn't diagnosed until he was a year old.

"When he came out of the wound, he was blue, blue, but they said he was fine," Shane's mother explained.

Colleen she says the stroke left him with cerebral palsy, and resulted in limited use of his right side.

Shane didn't walk until he was three and half years old.

"He couldn't talk either," Colleen said, "We helped him with sign language, could only use one arms, but he could do "milk" and "more" and that's how we got through."

Shane also has febrile seizures when his body overheats. His medical alert dog, Joei, can sense the seizures and alerts his parents.

Shane has been getting botox in his legs to help him walk, but his mom says it's no longer doing the trick and surgery may be next.

"He has a lot going on, but the thing is, he doesn't let that define who he is. He just keeps on going," she said.

Shane is very serious about preparing for the upcoming triathlon.

He's been practicing his running on a treadmill at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and his cycling in his Lansdale neighborhood.

"Joei's gonna help me bike. Joei's my friend, Right Joe?" Shane said of his beloved companion.

Shane's mom and dad and Joei will be there every step of the way starting with the swimming portion of the race.

"My husband will help him get out, go to the bike and get it done, show the world what he can do," Colleen explained.

 Colleen says the triathlon will give Shane that "I can do anything" attitude.

"We cannot wait to see his face when he goes through the finish line. 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."

The Popiny family got Joei last August and they say the dog has changed their lives.

Before Joei they had a difficult time even leaving their house because Shane also suffers from sensory issues and often has meltdowns.

Now with Joei by his side to keep Shane calm and safe, the sky is the limit for this little stroke survivor.

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