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