The Wind Beneath Breezy’s Wings
Brianne Bochenek has always been the most positive person in the room. Light-hearted and full of life, it was no surprise to anyone that she earned the nickname “Breezy.” When she was nine, she enjoyed playing soccer until what seemed like a routine injury caused her to start physical therapy. When physical therapy didn’t work, doctors suggested further testing, which revealed every parent’s worst nightmare.
The tests revealed that Breezy had osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer that required Breezy’s left leg to be amputated above the knee. Her parents were devastated, but Breezy was not.
“As Breezy thought about life and cancer and losing her leg, she actually said that she felt lucky,” said her father, Stan Bochenek. While many kids would be destroyed by having their leg amputated, Breezy said this to her mom, “I’m thinking of all the kids in the world who don’t have enough food or water, and it makes me feel like what I am going through isn’t such a big deal.” Breezy often shares, “I couldn’t control cancer, but I could control the impact it had on me. To me it seemed simple – I was ALIVE, so I was going to LIVE. “
Even before Breezy’s amputation, the Challenged Athletes Foundation stepped in to provide Breezy and her family with support and mentorship.
“The Challenged Athletes Foundation provided us with a true gift, which is to say they showed us that Breezy could live a life without limits.” Stan added that the Challenged Athletes Foundation also provides adaptive sports equipment to help challenged athletes be active and granted Breezy an awesome running leg for when she completed chemotherapy and wanted to return to sport.
In 2013, less than two weeks after receiving her running leg, her father asked Breezy if she wanted to participate in the Wildflower Triathlon.
“Breezy didn’t understand what she was getting herself into,” said Stan. “But she said, ‘Sure, we have a whole ten days to train. Let’s do it!’”
Breezy’s first triathlon was far from easy. It wasn’t just as simple as putting one foot in front of the other because Breezy hadn’t even gotten used to her prosthesis yet. The water was cold, she fell off her bike, the run was brutal, but nothing could stop Breezy. She crossed the finish line with a huge smile on her face and the admiration of everyone watching her.
Since then, it’s become a tradition for Breezy, her family, and one of her best friends, Julia Leontini, to celebrate life by racing at Wildflower. In fact, Breezy already has plans to transition up to the Olympic distance triathlon and will someday complete a full distance 140.6 Ultra Triathlon with her 4 brothers and sisters supporting her.
We have no doubt that she will accomplish all of her dreams – and in the process, she will inspire us to believe that we can make ours come true as well.
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