I Tri for Tim Builds Community a Mile at a Time

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Sam Saldivar, Tim Chevalier and Matthew Weathers

On July 31, BJU graduates and staff members Sam Saldivar and Matthew Weathers will undertake their iron-distance triathlon to benefit 1983 BJU graduate Tim Chevalier. With the goal of raising $20,000 to assist Chevalier’s fight against Parkinson’s disease, the “Tri for Tim” event seeks to support and encourage a fellow servant of the Lord and friend.

The Inciting Need

Chevalier, a longtime member of Hampton Park Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, has served in various ministries over the years. Saldivar said that when Chevalier preaches, Christ’s work and the Gospel occupy the spotlight.

Chevalier’s ministry outside the church building’s walls has expanded to include short-term missions trips and fulfilling the responsibilities of an elder. Said Saldivar: “I had a stroke, a little over two years ago. … He was one of the first ones to swing by and check on how I was doing.”

While working in the construction industry, Chevalier began experiencing unusual symptoms in 2019 that led to further investigation. Although these symptoms seemed to originate from a previously diagnosed brain stem birth defect, they weren’t the results of the nerve damage from the birth defect. At a checkup, the doctor diagnosed him with Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder that gradually strips the body of its ability to move.

Following the diagnosis, new expenses and needs arose. A lifelong supply of Parkinson’s medication and the necessity of shoulder surgery to increase function will aid Chevalier as he fights this disease. With his physical and financial uncertainty, Chevalier’s brothers in Christ responded with genuine compassion in action.

From One Triathlete …

Saldivar, a faculty member in BJU’s Division of Biblical Studies and Theology, is an avid ultra-distance sports follower and participant. He completed his first marathon in 2010 and has since completed the Boston Marathon, a 100-mile ultramarathon and the Foothills Trail Ultra Run.

It wasn’t until he watched the televised Ironman in Hawaii, in which an 80-year-old man participated for the 20th year in a row, that triathlon interest blipped on his radar. Said Saldivar: “I’m sitting there watching and I’m like, if that old guy can do an Ironman, I need to get up and do something like this.” He entered a half iron-distance triathlon, and knowing that Weathers, a fellow ultradistance sports enthusiast, had completed an iron-distance triathlon, Saldivar approached him with an idea. Would Weathers want to take on an iron-distance triathlon on a course they set up in Greenville on a day they picked?

… to Another

Weathers, the director of the Center for Leadership Development at BJU, started competing in ultra-distance sports in 2002 as a high schooler when he completed a sprint triathlon (the shortest type of triathlon with a 0.5-mile swim, 12.4-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run). Said Weathers: “I’ve done multiple sprint triathlons, I’ve done three half iron-distance triathlons, and I’ve done one full-distance iron triathlon.”

He hesitantly agreed to Saldivar’s proposal. “It wasn’t just a go out one day and Rah! Rah! Rah!” said Weathers. “I wanted to have more depth of meaning, and that desire coincided with the awareness of Tim’s condition and the need to provide some sort of assistance.”

Part of a Community

Both Weathers and Saldivar were familiar with the I Do It For Foundation, the platform Michael Moore of the BJU Division of Music used to raise money for the late Larry McKeithan. Established by Jonathan Pait (‘91), the foundation encourages people within communities to financially support others in need through endurance sports.

The original aim of completing an iron triathlon merged with Chevalier’s need, and the I Tri for Tim was born. The event — consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2- mile run — will follow a course from the Half Mile Lake community pool to Cleveland Park’s Shelter 6. “Our goal is to be a blessing to a brother, and I think we’re getting there,” said Weathers.

“Part of the amazing reality of the triathlon and running ultra-endurance sport community is that it is a community, and you bring people around you for the experience.”

To properly prepare for the I Tri for Tim, Saldivar and Weathers began training in mid-May. Their weekly schedule includes three days of brick workouts (training in two disciplines back to back), with longer training sessions on Saturdays. They plan to complete a half-iron distance triathlon the week of July 4 to measure their progress.

Join the Community

During the training and on the triathlon day itself, both Weathers and Saldivar invite others to join them in supporting Chevalier. In fact, several men from Hampton Park have already trained alongside the pair and plan on completing part or all of the triathlon, too.

The running and biking portions of the triathlon course are specifically laid out in loops that pass by Shelter 6, inviting participation from those who haven’t trained for the full distance and building community for those who watch on Tri day.

Said Saldivar: “Anybody can join in for any amount of distance, even though they’re not in shape. You can go and run a mile for Tim or bike five miles for Tim, or just hang out in the picnic area for Tim.” Whether you cheer, swim, run, bike, walk or just show up, all are welcome to attend the celebration.

In addition to showing up for the I Tri for Tim, monetary donations will be accepted on Tim’s I Do It For Foundation website. Those wishing to contribute can also purchase Tri for Tim T-shirts online. All proceeds from T-shirt sales will be added to the I Tri for Tim fund.

Weathers said that Chevalier and his wife have “just a love and kindness they demonstrated over the years, not only to our small group but to our church body as a whole. It’s been really amazing to see. And so we’re thrilled to have this opportunity to serve him in a small way. … If you know Tim and love Tim you’re welcome to come out on July 31 to join the excitement.”

For more information or to donate, visit the website.