Resiliency: A Story About My Brother

Hello friends. Haley here. I am writing today with what I hope will be inspirational to you in some way. Maybe that’s what you’re in need of. A little something to help you over the hump. Some nugget of wisdom or ray of sunshine that will help you press on through a present difficulty or trial. Or maybe you just need some affirmation to help you pursue something that you long to do, but question if you’re able. So today, I want to use my brother, Tripp Hipple, as the source of said inspiration. He will deny that he is such, but beauty [and inspiration] are in the eye of the beholder, I assure you!

Tripp is 27 years old. He lives in Denver, CO. He has a full-time job, as well as a full-time training schedule as a triathlete. He departs tomorrow for Kona, HI where he will compete in the Ironman World Championship next Saturday. As an older sister, this is a profoundly proud moment. To Tripp, he never feels he has “arrived” or that he is as strong of a contender as he wants to be. But when I see where he is today, I think he’s an inspirational hero. I think he is doing something that is far beyond what we ever thought possible even 4 years ago, and I’ll tell you why…

Tripp flew into Oakland, CA in August of 2010 to help me move back to Denver. I stood down by baggage claim and watched as Tripp stepped onto the escalator from the floor above. I instantly choked back my own tears. He was gaunt, pale, sickly, and he walked with total discomfort and stiffness. His feet and legs were inflexible and rigid. His body was under serious duress, which had been increasing for some time. But no answers yet. I had to pull myself together and greet him without letting on to the fact that I was in some sort of shock. Who was this guy? Where was my brother?

Tripp walking CA

  Painful to walk at times

Rewind a bit to Tulsa. Towards the end of Tripp’s college years, he began running frequently, and doing an occasional race in town. He worked up to running marathons for fun, and in that, he found a new hobby. He was seemingly healthy and fit. And for those who know Tripp, they know he’s been an athlete his entire life. Competitive gymnast and diver, skateboarder, snowboarder.

Fast forward back to 2010, and Tripp’s body was attacking itself. It took him ages to walk up or down a flight of stairs. The pain was intense, but yet his doctors kept telling him to stay active, to walk, to ride a stationary bike, to do whatever he could to maintain the amount of flexibility and movement he did have.

Always handsome, but definitely wasn't feeling the best during this time

                     Always handsome, but he definitely wasn’t feeling the best during this time

I’ll never forget our drive back from California to Colorado. As we crossed the desert, we talked and brainstormed about what might be causing all of these issues. Clearly not medical professionals ourselves, but just two siblings hoping to arrive at some significant insight or answer. “Is it food related?” I asked. “No, the doctors say it isn’t.” “Is this some sort of severe allergic reaction?” “No, they don’t think so.” On and on we went.

Tripp had been diagnosed with a form of arthritis that is quite rare and only presents itself in young males. He began treatment for it but other issues had already surfaced. Ulcers from taking too many Advil for the pain. Anemia. Something still wasn’t right. Finally, after 2+ years of searching for answers, they arrived at a conclusion. Celiac Disease.

Tripp had lost almost all of his muscle definition. He wasn’t able to run and exercise like he had before. He was a muted version of himself. He was angry at times, and frustrated with the situation and pain. He wondered why it was happening. We all did.

Fast forward to 2014. Tripp won his age group at the Texas Ironman in May. He is not only running again (and is faster than he ever has been), but he is swimming and cycling to boot! He is the fittest and healthiest I have ever seen him. He is inspirational. Yes, I am biased sibling. But I am encouraged and inspired nonetheless! His journey has been intense, and the payoff is exceedingly joyful!

Tripp is a living picture of RESILIENCY. defines resilience/resiliency as “1) the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched. 2) The ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like. Merriam-Webster online defines resilience as “the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.”

Tripp not only bounced back after pressing adversity, but he is stronger, faster, healthier, wiser, and more determined than ever before. If you know Tripp, you know that he is outrageously disciplined with his training schedule. He is committed. He is invested. He is in the sport 200%. This is the mark of someone who went through the fire and came out refined, stronger, and solid.

“Endurance builds character.” These are words coined by Tripp Hipple. It’s the motto of his life, and it’s true of him.

Ironman TX 2014

                                                                            Ironman TX 2014

Ironman TX 2014

                                                                    Ironman TX 2014

Today, I celebrate as I see the power of resiliency! I celebrate the impact of my brother’s story and the way it has and will continue to strengthen many others who find themselves in the dark and difficult places of life. Be encouraged today!

Resilience If you’d like to follow Tripp’s athletic career, feel free to check out his website and to follow his page on Facebook.