He has some­thing that not ev­ery­one fo­cus.” has, which is com­plete laser

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That was hugely in­spi­ra­tional for me,” Buren ex­plains. “He was just this young guy when he broke his back and then he did an Iron­man. I saw that it could be done. I won­dered if I could get my own arms to carry me across that fin­ish line.”

Some told him it wasn’t pos­si­ble, but Buren chose to lis­ten to those who be­lieved he could.

“My wife Sab­rina has al­ways been my big­gest sup­porter,” he says.

“He has al­ways been a goal- ori­ented per­son,” Haque ex­plains. “He has some­thing that not ev­ery­one has, which is com­plete laser fo­cus. When he set his mind on qual­i­fy­ing for Kona, I didn’t doubt he would ac­com­plish it.”

Buren says he found tremen­dous sup­port all around him – from Team LPC to fel­low para­plegic ath­letes in the com­mu­nity – which helped make Kona a tan­gi­ble goal.

“What char­ac­ter­izes my story is that so many peo­ple have come out of the wood­work to help me ac­com­plish my goals,” he says. “I truly be­lieve that when the world sees you are com­mit­ted to some­thing, they re­spond and they will help you.”

From his first triathlon in 2010 to the fin­ish line at Kona, that type of sup­port has fol­lowed Buren the en­tire way.

“It cer­tainly wasn’t an easy process – from a train­ing stand­point, but also just get­ting to qual­i­fy­ing races,” Buren says.

There are only three Iron­man races around the world at which para­plegic ath­letes can qual­ify for Kona, and there are only two spots avail­able at each race.

“I got to Kona this year thanks to all the peo­ple around me. It re­ally has been a team ef­fort from start to fin­ish.”

A team is ex­actly how Haque de­scribes their fam­ily dy­namic be­fore, but even more so af ter, Buren’s ac­ci­dent.

“Get­ting to Kona was Rob’s driv­ing force for the last two years. It framed ev­ery­thing he did. It also be­came the frame­work for our lives as a fam­ily,” Haque ex­plains. “But we have al­ways looked at things that way. We sup­port each other in ev­ery­thing we do. That’s been an im­por­tant mes­sage we have al­ways shared with our daugh­ters.”

Only Buren’s older daugh­ter re­mem­bers her fa­ther pre-ac­ci­dent days. Haque says the pos­i­tive in­flu­ence he has on their lives has only been strength­ened through his de­ter­mi­na­tion as a triath­lete.

“Our older daugh­ter Chloe moved away from home to pur­sue her dreams of be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional bal­let dancer at the age of 10,” she ex­plains. “Chloe was al­ways a home­body so the ad­just­ment was re­ally hard for her. But she will tell you she was brave enough to do it be­cause of see­ing what her dad ac­com­plished. He gives her courage.”

By all ac­counts, the in­spi­ra­tion Buren gives his fam­ily has spread to ev­ery­one he meets.

“I think I’ve al­ways been this way,” Buren replies, when asked how he re­mains so pos­i­tive. “But what helps is the peo­ple I choose to keep in my life. I try to al­ways start on the premise that peo­ple are good and I have found that for the most part, they re­ally are. I have seen that in the way so many strangers have helped me achieve my goals. I sur­round my­self with great peo­ple and they el­e­vate me.”

It comes as no sur­prise that Buren says he’s mov­ing to­wards more pub­lic speak­ing in the fu­ture.

“I’m tak­ing a lit­tle break from triathlon to pur­sue this other pas­sion,” he says. “I want to share the mes­sage with oth­ers that de­spite chal­lenges you may face, if you have a goal and stay op­ti­mistic while work­ing hard, you can trust in the process and it will hap­pen.”

ABOVE Rob Buren races the Buf­falo Springs Triathlon

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