COEUR D’ALENE, ID (WAFB) - Thousands of people hit the streets in Idaho to participate in one of the hardest triathlon races, Ironman. Among the sea of competitors was a shirt that stood out. Bright letters spelling "Louisiana Strong" lined the back of the black Nike shirt.
"I'm feeling pretty useless up here with the floods back home in Louisiana, so I decided to have something put on my Ironman top." wrote Shane Foster in a Facebook post the week before he was set to race. "I called a couple of places, they said no one would do it for just one shirt."
Foster spent the majority of his life in Livingston Parish. As an adult, he attended LSU, but left the state for his Master's degree. He now lives in Montana and like so many former Louisiana residents, he wanted to do something, anything, to help his family and friends.
"Then, I called Cajun (no joke) Designs in a nearby city (Columbia Falls)," he explained. "Barely able to keep it together, I told Olivia that I needed to do something, to show solidarity for my family and friends down south. She said that her family down there has lost homes too and she was feeling just as helpless. She said they don't normally do one shirt, but to 'bring that shirt here.' Though they are very busy, she got the shirt done in one afternoon for cost."
With the help of his employer, North Valley Hospital, he set up a fundraising campaign and raised $2,475 for flood recovery. The money is being donated to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
"And because of the extreme rarity of the storm, many of them will be forced to start again without the aid of flood insurance. That's why I want to use my race to raise awareness and funds to help my home community get the support they need as they get back on their feet," he said. "Let's show them that they are not alone and make sure that they have the tools they need to remain Louisiana Strong."
On Sunday, Aug. 21, Foster completed his first Ironman triathlon, which includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride,, and 26.2 mile run. He did so with his partner James Cannava.
"It was a long day for us - a brutal bike ride and a long dark run for me. But those 16.5 hours for me was a walk in the park compared to what my friends and family have ahead of them in cleaning up South Louisiana and returning their lives to normal," he said after the race. "Very proud of being a part of the Ironman CDA tradition - but even more proud to represent Team Louisiana Strong and so, so grateful to everyone who has given to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation.
"Please ask questions, discuss and donate and let's make sure we give Louisianans the tools they need to keep Louisiana Strong."