Brent and Kyle Pease share a message with supporters at a fundraising event.

Each March, thousands of athletes test themselves at the Publix Georgia Marathon/Half Marathon. This year, the Kyle Pease Foundation led by brothers Kyle and Brent Pease is proud to support 58 disabled athletes accompanied by more than 200 volunteers as they tackle the hilly course.

“When I see each athlete cross the finish line with a smile on their face, that brings the greatest joy to me,” foundation co-founder Kyle Pease said. “Publix and the Atlanta Track Club have done a great job supporting inclusion. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Nowadays, more wheelchair athletes are competing in endurance events, individually or assisted, in part due to early role models like the Boston marathon father/son duo “Team Hoyt” and now the Pease brothers.

Kyle grew up with spastic quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy, a neurological condition that creates a stiffness in muscles limiting his mobility. He has used a wheelchair since he was a young child.

Family videos of Kyle, his twin Evan, and older brother Brent show a typical childhood of three brothers goofing around and playing sports. Big brother Brent was protective from an early age and made sure Kyle was included.

“Brent always had that older brother mentality – he would always look out for me,” Kyle said.

But as they grew older, Kyle couldn’t participate in certain sports, like baseball “they way everyone else played ball.”

That all changed when the two “stumbled into the endurance world where you don’t have to change the rules. You just get to do it like everyone else does,” Brent said.

Brent and Kyle finish the 2017 Publix Marathon.

After admittedly enjoying college life too much, Brent decided to get back into shape. In a span of three years, he built from a 10K to a full Ironman. Kyle watched in awe as his brother took on these new physical and mental tests.

“Can people in wheelchairs do an Ironman?” Kyle asked Brent after his first Ironman. “Brent answered ‘absolutely yes.’ Ever since then, we’ve been breaking down barriers.”

The year 2011 was transformative for the Pease brothers. In February, they entered their first race together, a small neighborhood 10K. In March, they completed the Publix Half Marathon. By April they finished their first triathlon. And in June they started a foundation.

“The idea for the foundation came right after we did our first triathlon. I had an aha moment. I want to get other people involved to give them hope and a sense of purpose,” Kyle said.

Kyle and Brent co-founded The Kyle Pease Foundation (KPF) to provide assistance to meet the individual needs of disabled persons through sports. This is accomplished by providing scholarships, purchasing equipment, contributing to similarly purposed organizations, and raising awareness through outreach.

“My mom and dad surrounded me with sports growing up – I wanted to give that to other people,“ Kyle shared.

At first, the brothers struggled to find other disabled athletes to join them, until they met Jake Vinson. His mother, Amy, approached Brent and Kyle after all three completed a 10K.

“She came up to us after the race and said ‘this is incredible. I’ve been looking for something like this for my son. Tell me about it,’” Brent recalled. “We have a foundation. We can help.”

At the 2012 Publix Half Marathon, a year after Kyle’s debut, Jay participated as the foundation’s first athlete in their first event.

“Now, this is our largest event with 58 athletes and more than 200 volunteers,” Kyle said.
Not only is the foundation growing size, it may also expand its scope.

Kyle and Brent with friends and family after the Publix Marathon.

“After (foundation athlete) Justin Knight, completed his first assisted Ironman, my assumption was that he would say he wanted to take on another race but instead he said, ‘I want a job,’” Brent said.

“As a foundation we are providing inclusion, first and foremost to compete but the outcome gives a new found sense of purpose,” Brent said.

Knight was ready to take on work, find a roommate, and go on a date. For starters, Knight wrote 1,732 tax letters for the foundation.

“We want to learn how can we be a catalyst beyond the finish line,” Brent said.

Visit kylepeasefoundation.org to volunteer, donate or spread the word.