Deerfield husband and wife do triathlons for infant charity
Susan and Scott Niswander participate in triathlons, donating their winnings to a foundation that donates rocking chairs to neonatal units in local hospitals. | Susan Niswander~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 28, 2013 7:53AM
DEERFIELD — Deerfield resident Susan Niswander is not simply an athlete, but a triathlete with a mission.
She focuses her energy and athletic skills on raising money for Eleonore Rocks, a charity for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit of Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago.
In fact, Niswander is so devoted to the cause, she even enticed her husband, Scott, to join her in the effort.
Q: Tell us about Eleonore Rocks.
A: Eleonore Rocks Foundation (ER) was founded by Rochelle and David Friedrich who lost a daughter, Eleonore, shortly after childbirth. They established the foundation to honor her memory and support other families enduring similar situations. Read more by visiting www.EleonoreRocks.org/AboutUs
Their mission is to make a positive impact on the lives of sick children and their families. This is carried out through donating rocking chairs and providing support to the impacted families.
Q: How are you using your athletic skills to benefit the charity?
A: We train and race in our Eleonore Rocks uniforms to raise awareness about the foundation. Wearing the pink and grey uniforms spurs conversation about ER and encourages donations on our behalf. To donate to Eleonore Rocks on our behalf, do a Google search on “Niswander Eleonore Rocks.”
Q: Are you both triathletes, and if so, for how long?
A: In 1994 Susan did a sprint triathlon and wasn’t thrilled; her sixth grade bike and lack of swim technique were obstacles. It was 1998 when she did another triathlon — an Olympic distance on a new bike. For Scott, watching his then-future wife, Susan, prepare for her first Ironman really got him motivated to give it a try. He hadn’t competed athletically in years, didn’t own a functioning bike, and couldn’t swim very well. By the time we married in 2001, Scott was doing his first Ironman in Austria with me, on our honeymoon!
Q: What was it like working with Lurie Children’s Hospital?
A: Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital originally ordered seven rocking chairs. Upon delivery, the response to the chairs was so positive that the hospital board quickly ordered 70 additional chairs!
Q: What has been your most physically-challenging competition?
A: There is something challenging in every race, but Ironman is the most physically challenging. An Ironman is comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. To complete, it can take from eight and a half hours (for a pro) to 17 hours, the official cut off.
Q: How did you choose Eleonore Rocks as a charity?
We first learned about the foundation through our nephew who works with the founder of Eleonore Rocks. To date, 100 percent of the donations have gone to purchasing chairs and providing support to families.
Q: Who made the rocking chairs and from where did they come?
A: The rocking chairs come from a small Amish furniture shop in Ohio. Each wooden rocking chair is handcrafted and offers a comfortable built-in leather cushion. These rocking chairs are perfect for a parent rocking their infant.
Q: How long have you lived in Deerfield?
A: We have lived in Deerfield for 11 years.
Q: What is your family like?
A: We both grew up in families who enjoying a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, running, bicycling, canoeing, swimming, etc.