WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Battleship North Carolina served our country in World War Two, and on Saturday, it will serve as the finish line for PPD's Beach2Battleship Triathlon. One team calls themselves the Tin Men, and they not only have a special connection to clinical research but also to each other. Their team name, the Tin Men, is fitting because they've all received new hearts, and the marathon leg of the team also has new lungs.
“There's a certain understanding when it comes to what we've been through that nobody who hasn't been through it understands,” said Tin Men runner Mark Black.
History will be made Saturday as it's the first time a transplant team will compete in a full triathlon. The fact that PPD is the title sponsor has significance too.
“Their goals of improving the lives of patients through clinical trials, we're all people who have directly benefited from that, so I think it's a special place to be,” said Tin Men Cyclist Kyle Garlett.
Brian Barndt will start the team off in the water. His heart transplant was back in 2005, and Brian said his life before the surgery was hardly worth living, but now his hope and health are restored.
Everything I’ve been given is a gift, and I’m blessed to be where I’m at, so it's important to me to give back and to try to make an effort to do something very significant, to let people know, organs have got to be donated. The numbers on the list need to go down and not up any longer,” said Barndt.
Kyle Garlett is second in the line-up. His heart transplant was in 2006.
“There are a lot of things in life that people fear and feel like is gonna change their lives forever and for the worst, and I would say, don't allow your own modest expectations to dictate how you live after something like that,” said Garlett.
Mark Black is the final leg. He had a heart and double-lung transplant back in 2002.
“I'm here today because someone made the decision to give the gift of life. I grew up with congestive heart failure and chronic illness, was hospitalized for six months prior to my surgery, couldn't walk a flight of stairs without getting out of breath, and now I’m, in a couple days, gonna run a marathon,” said Black.
No matter what time they step onto the Battleship on Saturday, all the Tin Men agree, just crossing the finish line will be a victory.