Bethany Hamilton and Brad Snyder: Heroes Who NEVER QUIT Racing Together in Trident Challenge

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What do a former Navy Special Operations blind gold medalist swimmer and a one-armed professional surfer have in common? They never quit living life to the fullest after facing adversity, and they’ll also be racing in the NEVER QUIT Trident Challenge together.

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We all have a Never Quit story and we all are inspired from each other. This will be one amazing May weekend. - Erik Petroni, event organizer

On May 19th, Bethany Hamilton and Navy EOD Spec Ops member LT Brad Snyder will team up to compete at the NEVER QUIT Trident Challenge, 5k and Special Ops Warrior Challenge in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Bethany Hamilton, with her only arm, will hold Brad Snyder’s hand and guide him blind through the Trident Challenge: (5k beach run, 500M Ocean swim, 1.5k Ocean surfboard paddle) Bethany will paddle next to Brad as he swims half of a kilometer in the ocean, and together they will complete the final leg of the Trident as they paddle on their surfboards 1.5 kilometers in the ocean.

A blind Special Operations man teaming up with a young female surfer who lost her arm, both Brad and Bethany have said that they would not change where their lives are today if given the chance. Both agree that they’re able to do more good in the world with the post trauma position they are in. Hamilton and Snyder will be the first to say that the NEVER QUIT event is more than just a race – it’s an experience and lesson to never quit, no matter what circumstance one faces in life.

“Bethany Hamilton and Brad Snyder are two of the perfect humble individuals that optimize the NEVER QUIT spirit," says Erik Petroni, event organizer. "Many lives will be moved and changed for the better when we can be with them at NEVER QUIT this year. We all have a Never Quit story and we all are inspired from each other. This will be one amazing May weekend.”

By the age of 8, Bethany Hamilton was winning surfing competitions in her home state of Hawaii. At the age of 13 while surfing off Kauai’s North Shore, a 14-foot tiger shark attacked Bethany. Her arm was severed and she lost more than 60% of her blood. Only one month after the attack, Bethany was back in the ocean, pursuing her dreams of becoming a professional surfer. A year after losing her arm to a shark, with her one arm, she competed in the US Nationals Surfing Championships winning gold. In 2007, she turned pro and began competing and inspiring people around the world.

Lieutenant Brad Snyder was blinded in 2011 while rushing to the aid of his teammates in Afghanistan who were severely injured while stepping on improvised explosive devices (IEDs). As Brad rushed to their aid he also stepped on an IED, blinding him. He was taken to Walter Reed Hospital, where doctors had to remove his eyes. Just weeks after being released from Walter Reed Hospital, he went swimming and running with his younger brother. While running, he was connected to his brother by a short piece of rope and a lifetime of mutual respect. With his brother’s encouragement, Brad was back in the pool pursuing his dreams of becoming a top swimmer. A year after losing his eyesight to a bomb blast, he competed in the 2012 London Paralympics, where he earned a gold medal and a set a new world record. Wearing a hat with a Navy emblem on one side and the American flag on the other, Snyder and his teammate Hamilton will be racing to represent the love of their country and for those who share the Never Quit spirit.

Erik Petroni organizes the NEVER QUIT event each year in the memory of those who will NEVER QUIT, and from the inspirational words of his father, Captain Gerard Petroni. Gerard, Naval Commander and Sea Captain, who refused to quit despite suffering through a stroke and brain bleed in 2006 that left him unable to speak, eat or walk, yet made a huge recovery before his final stroke which took his life in 2009, has now moved thousands with his struggled and determined two words.

Six months after Gerard’s stroke and brain hemorrhage, Erik gave his father a Sharpie pen and asked him to write down the most important words that he wanted to convey to he and his family. With a hard-pressed hand Gerard wrote the words: NEVER QUIT. Three months later, while Erik was outside trying to help Gerard walk again, Gerard spoke for the first time and said, “Thank you for pushing me 1,000% and never quitting for me. I will never quit for you, Erik.” I’ll NEVER QUIT have now become the words for the runners bib.

“We all have someone that we can give our all for,” says Erik. “Yet, in this world that we live in we’re taught ‘what’s in it for me?’ It’s an incorrect way to approach life. NEVER QUIT is a message of love and determination, that there is no greater joy than to give our life for someone else. To love someone with all that you have within you. Who would you give your all for? Who will you NEVER QUIT for?”

It’s a message that’s carried through every detail of the NEVER QUIT event. For instance, the racing bibs are designed so that participants can customize their bib and write in: I’LL NEVER QUIT FOR:_________. The names written on the bibs vary as much as the participants who have personalized them. The names of family members, soldiers, their God, loved ones who are suffering or those who have overcome adversity, are written on each bib. NEVER QUIT is celebrating its 5th year in existence, and has the nation’s fastest growth percentage of any run.

On May 19, 2013, the public and press is invited join the thousands of people who will NEVER QUIT. Participants are encouraged to get checked for high blood pressure and hypertension at the event. At the Sea Walk Pavilion, participants will have the chance to meet with Brad Snyder and Bethany Hamilton before she opens her movie SOUL SURFER on the two nights before the physical events. After each race, on the red carpet finish line, every finisher will receive a $300 necklace from 50 Naval Officers in uniform. In addition, approximately 1,000 people will compete in the Warrior Challenge and Battle for the Beach for a chance to win a U.S. Military Special Ops contract.

For more information about the NEVER QUIT event and experience or to interview Erik Petroni, Brad Snyder or Bethany Hamilton, please contact: erik(at)neverquitnever(dot)com

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Zak Carter
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