Hector Picard plays basketball, hits softballs, swims and cycles through IRONMAN races without arms. He is the first double amputee to finish Ironman’s World Championship.
In between triathlons, though, he does half-arm push-ups in classrooms to inspire children who need it.
“Sometimes I find myself going through a hard time, but it’s nothing compared to what these children have to face,” Picard said.
Twenty-five years ago, Picard, then an electrician’s apprentice, lost his right arm and half his left while working on transformers near Miami. He spent 31 days in a coma, then woke to see his wife leave him. He lost his career, too.
Down and almost out, Picard found motivation working out at his gym.
“A couple (came) up to me and asks me if I ever considered to be in a triathlon,” Picard recalled. “I said, 'Triathlon?' I thought triathletes were crazy. I wasn’t a swimmer. I wasn’t a cyclist, and I hated running.”
Still, he tried and turned heads during his first race. Picard impressed competitors as much as anyone.
“People were like, 'Wow, you’re amazing,'” he said. “(They said) you got me through this race. I was thinking about quitting, and I saw you.”
All of a sudden, he discovered new purpose and a new career: motivational speaking. Novation Solutions hired him.
During National Bicycle Month, Picard is racing his motto “Don’t Stop Living” around six states and 31 cities, including Houston. He visited Ault Elementary to inspire kids labeled disabled.
“I want to be their champion,” Picard said. “I want to go out there and I want to be their role model and say if he can do it, I can do it as well.”