Dreams come true for man and son with Cerebral Palsy at SLO Triathlon

Posted at 4:58 PM, Jul 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-22 19:58:03-04

A San Luis Obispo man never dreamed he and his son would be able to race alongside each other in a triathlon but on Sunday, the duo finished the cycling portion of the race to the sound of booming applause.

"It’s a dream come true for me because it’s a dream come true for him," John Cornelius said.

Cornelius is the father of 24-year-old Joseph, who has severe cerebral palsy.

"He can’t walk, he can’t talk," Cornelius said, adding that his son must be fed through a feeding tube.

Despite the limitations of Joseph’s condition, he and his father have participated in the SLO Triathlon for five straight years.

The duo is able to run, swim and bike together thanks to a series of specially made devices designed by Cal Poly engineering students and the Special Olympics.

"To see Joseph smile and see him happy, I’m just so proud," Cornelius said. "I’m proud of him every day but today I’m especially proud of him."

That pride extends not only from father to son but from brother to brother.

"When you and I are sleeping, John is up taking care of Joe," Joseph’s uncle, Bill Cornelius, said. "So if he gets a few hours of sleep, that’s huge. I never hear John ever complain, it’s always about Joe."

John Cornelius said he is amazed by the support he received from the large group of his friends and family, who make up Team Joseph.

"I don’t know how he does it," John Cornelius said. "He has a spirit and energy that’s incredible."