A Michigan man who participated in a local triathlon over the weekend has been called the "father of the century" by some because of the devotion he has shown for his child.
Rick van Beek of Byron Center, Mich., took part in the Sanford and Sun sprint triathlon this Saturday with his 13-year-old daughter, Madison, the Midland Daily News reports.
The teenager couldn't take part in the event alone, so her heroic dad pulled and pushed her along with him, taking every stride and stroke together toward the finish line.
Maddy, as she is affectionately known, has cerebral palsy. The teen can neither walk nor talk, and her dad says he isn't even sure that she can see.
But what van Beek does know is that Maddy loves the outdoors.
"She functions like a 3-month-old, and one of the very few things that we know she enjoys is being outside, being in the water, feeling the breeze in her hair and in her face," van Beek, 39, told Midland Daily News.
So, in 2008, van Beek -- then terribly out of shape and a heavy smoker -- decided he would start training for outdoor races.
In his blog, van Beek admits that getting into shape was initially extremely difficult.
However, he was determined to live a healthier life for Maddy and to share the fruits of that labor with her.
"I run for and with my daughter," he wrote in 2010.