Dare2tri Retired Military Athlete Profile: Kent Kenji Kakugawa

Get to know Kent "Kenji" Kakugawa, a retired military athlete, who after getting involved in May 2014, credits dare2tri with saving his life.


1. What’s your story/background?

I’m Kent Kakugawa, “Kenji,”  a 54-year-old Disabled NAVY Veteran. I worked in the Top Secret  Electronics field, most of which I cannot  talk about. What I can tell you is I obtained my injures in the line of duty in November of 1988. I tore my ACL-PCL-MCL and cartilage in my right knee so bad that I was not allowed to transfer duty stations. I received an Honorable Discharge in August of 1989. 

Over a 20 year period, I had seven surgeries to remove torn cartilage from my right knee, now I am “bone-to-bone”. I’ve also had three surgeries on the knee for varied reasons and had four custom knee braces. In that time I have had a stroke; a blood clot caused an amputation of the fifth digit of my left foot with a nine month stay at the VA Hospital. Now I must use a crow-walker on my left foot and walk less than a mile a day for the rest of my life. My last operation was a ru-en-y gastric bypass in October of 2013.

2. What’s is your specific involvement with dare2tri?

I am an Injured service member and now Paratriathlete. I live in Wisconsin and travel four hours, practice two hours, and then drive home another four hours. That makes for a long and grueling day but, it is worth every second.

3. How long have you been involved with dare2tri?

I started May 15, 2014 with my first practice on a handcycle. Now I will represent dare2tri for the rest of my life! 

4. Why did you get involved with dare2tri?

In November 2013 I started to look for somewhere that I could try a handcycle and the Veterans Administration Hospital did not have any. I did internet searches and found dare2tri. Coach Stacee Seay trained me on the handcycle and later the racing wheelchair (you can't find a better coach). I was then invited to dare2tri’s Paratriathlon training camp in June 2014. 

5. Is there a specific moment while with dare2tri that sticks out in your mind? If so, what is it?

It was on June 22, 2014 at the Pleasant Prairie Triathlon, my first paratriathlon . A nagging injury kept me out of the swim, so I did a relay. During the bike it was uneventful, I really liked having a guide as it was my first tri. During the run )or racing wheelchair for me), a lady that was doing her first duathlon said that she was going to quit. I told her she was on her last leg of her duathlon and it didn’t matter if she walked or ran across the finish as long as she finished. Later at the finish she thanked me and said that I motivated her to finish and without me she would have quit.

6. What would you like others to know about dare2tri?

Dare2tri is the best! They are kind, giving, and HONORABLE! They will help anyone with a disability no matter what caused it. They are open, honest, and provide a reason to live! Dare2tri’s motto is “One Inspires Many” and to me dare2tri is the “One” and we (the people they help) are the “Many”.

7. What does dare2tri mean to you?

Until I joined dare2tri, I made or modified my plan to commit suicide at least twice a month. All I did for the last 10 years was sit in my recliner and watch TV, modifying my plan to end my life thus ending my pain and anguish. Then I joined dare2tri, meeting a flock of ANGELS in human garb. I credit all of you for saving my life! I no longer have or make plans to commit suicide! Now I just look for the next race or training session. Without dare2tri's willingness to coach me, sponsor me, and loan me equipment for training and races, I would still be in my old thought pattern.
I thank you, and Dawn and our sons thank you, for creating dare2tri! I could not and would not have done this without you. May God bless you all! 

DARE2TRI SAVED MY LIFE! I cannot stress or say this enough!

8. Is there anything else you would like to share?

The Aloha (love) I get every time I’m around Keri, Dan, Melissa, Stacee, Derek (RIC), Cindy and Bob (GLASA), plus the athletes and volunteers, they all make up my new O’hana (family).

Also I have also been doing 5ks & 10ks on a handcycle while representing dare2tri. I won the: Run From The Cops 10k Overall Best at 10k July 19, 2014 (Reedsburg Professional Police Assn.); and on November 8, 2014 Evil Smiley Running had their Veterans Day 5k & 10k. I took first place for 50-54 year old’s in both 5k & 10k as I had an hour between races.