This is the story of two men: One, aged 34, and the other, 15.
The older man, Louis Kyros, will push himself to his limits June 27 in the Spartan Death Race. The younger man, Horacio Serrano, pushes himself as a daily routine. And he's something of a hero to the older Death Racer.
Kyros, a physical therapist at Morton West High School, will head for Pittsfield, Vt. next month to compete in the race "designed to present you with the totally unexpected, the totally insane, and take you out of your comfort zone," according to the race organization. It is "a 48-plus-hour event that is created to break you physically, mentally and emotionally," with a guarantee that 90 percent of the participants won’t finish.
Kyros is dedicating his Death Race efforts to Serrano, a freshman at Morton who is enrolled in honors classes, loves sports and video games, and has Muscular Dystrophy. Serrano said it's pretty exciting to have his therapist — and friend — dedicate the grueling race to him.
"I'm glad he's doing it," Serrano said. "No one has ever dedicated something like this to me. I'm thankful. I can't wait to see what happens."
Kyros came to Morton three years ago and works with special education students and students with disabilities. Basically, Kyros facilitates the physical needs of a student going to school. When he isn't spending time with this wife, Tina, and their three children, ages 5, 3 and 1, Kyros can generally be found working up a sweat in the name of physical fitness. These days, you're more than likely to see him running with a backpack full of weights, all in preparation for the Death Race.
But he has time to reflect on his young friend and the strength he demonstrates daily.
"People kind of look at him differently," Kyros said, referring to Serrano's illness. "But his mind is perfect. He's as sharp as a tack, he's in honors classes. This kid is awesome. He could easily pack it all in and do nothing. But he doesn't. It probably takes him three hours to get ready in the morning."
Serrano wonders, while sitting in his wheelchair, what it would be like to join Kyros on his quest.
"I think it would be a crazy experience to do something like that," Serrano said. "But looking at all the work working out he had to do to get in shape, it must be hard to do all of that."
Meanwhile, Kyros continues to prepare for hiking up and down mountains, crawling under barbed wire – all while carrying $25 worth of pennies. There's maps to follow, deciphering Greek with a dictionary (what?) chopping and carrying wood and swimming in frigid water. Think of something horrible and Kyros will probably have to do it.
"It's not really a race, you don't try to win it, you try to survive it," Kyros said. "People say that, but it's only when you get pushed out of your comfort zone that you grow."
Many of those lessons same lessons can be learned from Serrano.
"I take my education very seriously," Serrano said. "I’m always doing my best to get good grades and despite my physical disability I am in all honors classes. Another thing that I take seriously is my friends and family, because they are my motivation. Even though I am physically weak, I have many friends and family that make me feel strong emotionally. Without them I wouldn't be who I am today."