Finding Her Own Path
While Paz Molnar has not yet reached the same athletic level as her older sister Olivia, she has used her abilities to help others with physical challenges.
An eighth grader at Killian Middle School, the younger sibling spent several days this summer training to be a sighted guide for visually impaired triathletes. She first learned of such jobs last year when watching Brad Snyder win a gold medal in the paratriathlon in the Olympics in Tokyo, Japan. Snyder, a member of the U.S. Paralympic team, lost his eyesight while serving in the U.S. Navy.
“I saw him and thought it would be pretty cool,” the 13-year-old said. “I knew I wanted to do it when I saw Brad Snyder. I knew they always need help with that kind of stuff and nobody really wants to do it so I thought ‘why not.’ ”
So she connected with the Dare2Tri non-profit organization that specializes in adaptive sports. She learned how to ride in tandem on the bicycle and to communicate while tethered together on the thigh in swimming and running plus the transitions between the three triathlon events. Guides typically swim, bike and/or run alongside their partners to help with safety, encouragement and pacing.
“The run is pretty simply. You just to explain what you see,” said Paz, who in addition to swimming at Killian competes in cross country.
Once she exceeded the required times (10 percent faster than the athlete), she was paired with Maggie Peters, a Fort Wayne, Indiana, resident and Newberry College (South Carolina) freshman, for a triathlon in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, in late June.
Peters, who was part of Olivia’s swim team, finished in second place in the visually-impaired division beating her personal best on that course by about seven minutes.
Prior to assisting Peters, Paz competed in two triathlons on her own – the TriWaco in July 2021 and the Monster Triathlon in Keller last October. She finished third overall in her division (ages 13-15) at Waco. In the Monster, she cut her foot on the transition to the bicycle and finished that race before getting stitches. She ended up third in the female 14 and under division.
She used a hybrid bicycle in Waco which didn’t have the best road cadence but ended up with a much better one for the Monster.
“We were about to buy an actual tri-racing bike and mom asked people in the neighborhood if they had any extras and one (Erika Roy) donated a nice bike sitting in her garage,” Paz said.
The girls and their parents – Karen and Jacob – have lived in Castle Hills since early 2018 after spending five years in India. They originally are from Valparaiso, Indiana.
Paz has watched Olivia, a senior at The Colony High School who has had cerebral palsy since birth, throughout her journey to selection last year to the US Paralympic Triathlon Junior/U23 Development Program.
Like her sister, Paz swims both at the club level during the summer and at school during the fall, winter and spring.
She wants to get more experience in triathlons this school year before supporting other visually-impaired triathletes once she gets to high school next year.
“It’s been fun and so many people have been supportive too,” she said.