STAMFORD -- During last year's KIC IT triathlon to benefit Kids in Crisis, Tom McWalters cut his foot on broken sea shells during the 0.9-mile swim, but completed the swim/bike/run.
During Sunday's run, his wife, Joanne McWalters, used a stopwatch to alert her husband about how far behind he was from the lead competitors, she said.
"It's useful to know how much time I had to make up," said McWalters, who finished first in the triathlon with a total time of 2:02:40. "I love doing the triathlon."
McWalters was one of more than 500 competitors in the event, which benefits Cos Cob-based Kids in Crisis, Fairfield County's only short-term emergency shelter and counseling center for abused and neglected children newborn to age 17.
The race was expected to raise about $150,000 to run the shelter and other services, said Susan Duffy-Edwards, a spokeswoman for Kids in Crisis.
Last year about 140 children were sheltered in the facility's 20 beds at two shelters, said Denise Qualey, managing director of Kids in Crisis and director of clinical services.
The organization's shelter is the only one certified by the state to accept children 4 and under, Qualey said.
"A crisis can happen in any family and there is no socio-economic dividing line in who Kids in Crisis helps," Qualey said.
The race included a 0.9-mile swim starting at Cummings Park, a 24.8-mile bike ride, and a 6.2-run that started and finished in Columbus Park in downtown Stamford.
Jim Wenning, a New Canaan resident and executive at GE Capital, said the impetus to organize a triathlon to benefit Kids in Crisis grew out of a group of GE employees who ran the New York Triathlon, raising more than $60,000.
"We decided, `why don't we have our own triathlon?' " said Wenning, who competed in the event. "Since then it's started to become a big event."
Using a coach at EHS Tri, an Old Greenwich triathlon training business, helped Clark get in shape.
Running in his second KIC-IT triathlon, Clark said he improved his time during the 6-mile run, and had a final finish time of 2 hours and 28 minutes.
"I just feel a lot better and don't get sick as often," Clark said. "I'm living a healthier lifestyle."
Brooke Dumain of Brooklyn, N.Y., took part in the race as part of a relay team with her father. Dumain, a social worker, said she began competing in triathlons four years ago when she was seeking a challenge after leaving the Peace Corps and now runs about 10 of the events between May and October.
"The bike course through North Stamford was very hilly," Dumain said. "At this point it only takes me about a day to recover from a race."
Harry Day, a city representative for District 13, and chairman of the board of directors for Kids in Crisis, said the shelter has become an important resource for adolescents experiencing family problems.
"It is absolutely a critical resource and fills a huge gap," Day said.
Staff writer Martin B.Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-964-2264.