Deaf Athlete Proves ‘Anything is Possible’ at IRONMAN Arizona

Today, Mike Reilly, the EVP of Sales at and the Voice of IRONMAN, shares his unique experience at IRONMAN Arizona.   Over the years I’ve probably called in over 350,000 IRONMAN athletes, but the one call I did recently in Arizona, was one-of-a-kind! I received a message through my Facebook page about an athlete named Patrick Bass who would be competing in IRONMAN Arizona. So, I found his bio, read that he is deaf and decided to reach out to him to say, “It will be great to call you an IRONMAN.” Patrick then told me a story about a previous race where he had won an award, but didn’t know because there wasn’t anyone there signing. And then he asked if I would sign, “You are an IRONMAN” when he came in. At first I was a little surprised, but I immediately decided I wanted to do it and wrote back that it would be my honor. I gave him my cell number and told him we’d meet up in Arizona. The Friday before the race, Patrick texted me and I invited him to join my family and I at lunch. What I didn’t know was my niece, Mia Rzymek, knows sign language! Patrick pulled out a piece of paper with the signs for “You are an IRONMAN,” which in American Sign Language (ASL) translates into “YOU I.M. CHAMP YOU,” and we practiced until I got it right. After 149 IRONMANS on the microphone, I’m not nervous about a lot of things, but then all of a sudden during the race I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh. I hope I can pull this off.” When Patrick was coming down the chute, I jumped down from my stage and signed him in with “You are an IRONMAN,” followed by the ASL sign for applause. Almost immediately I started receiving messages from other deaf athletes: “That’s amazing!” and “Are you going to do this every time?” Spectators who were at the finish line came up to me the next day saying it was a very emotional and happy thing to witness. After the race Patrick told me that was the best thing anyone could have done for him because he never gets to hear the accolades. Now I want to teach the other IRONMAN announcers around the world to sign at their events. Patrick finished IRONMAN Arizona with a time of 11:19:58 and overall rank of 417 out of 2,500 finishers. The IRONMAN motto is “Anything is Possible,” and Patrick is definitely proof of that.

We are thrilled to announce that Patrick has also qualified for the IRONMAN 2016 World Championship 70.3 in Australia and he hopes Mike will be there to to sign in ASL again!

Plan your next event now on