Faith Helps Denise Finish

Denise Kuhlman is one of several Zion members who participated in the Buffalo Triathlon in June.

Denise has been a lifelong member of Zion and was baptized, confirmed and married here. She and her husband Joe both grew up and graduated from Maple Lake, and now they live in Buffalo with their children Zach (17), Jasmine (14), Joey (6), and Jake (4). Denise works as the Director of Client Relations at Gentz Financial Services located downtown Buffalo, and she and Joe enjoy watching the kids play hockey in the winter, BMX bike racing, swimming, fishing, going to tractor pulls and motor cross races in the summer.

I will always remember when I was stationed at Fort Hood TX back in 1992-1999 I tried very hard to find a church that would make me feel comfortable since I was new to the area. Every time I walked in to a church, I got the butterflies as if I was scared to talk to someone because no one ever came up to me and said hello or welcomed me. Even though I knew that God didn’t care what church I went to, I just felt like I was not going to fit in. I tried four different churches. Even though I was still a Zion member, I knew I would have to let go and seek my faith in God to help find me a church in the area. It’s hard to explain the feeling you get when you just know that it isn’t what you want. I was deployed to Iraq in 2003 and received so much support from people I didn’t even know. Letters came during the holidays, a friend sent me the journal press all the time, care packages came, it was amazing to see how many people from Zion stepped up to help me and most people didn’t even know who I was. This is why I know I can always count on the people who make it the place to come to worship and that Zion will always be my home.

Denise started doing triathlons in 2009 and has been doing them ever since.

The Army really got me started in physical fitness, but never thought I could continue to make something of it. The reason I started participating wasn’t because I needed a new hobby, it was because I really wanted to see if I could take on this challenge. Once I did the first one, I really got addicted to them. When I’m in the moment of either doing the swim, bike or run, it never fails that I ask myself what I am doing. But it’s crossing the finish line that keeps bringing me back. Whether I am training for a half – marathon, triathlon or a 5K, it gives me the motivation and encouragement to keep going and never give up. The biggest goal I strive for is just to beat my personal record from the previous one.

Before Denise goes into the water for the first leg of the triathlon, she prays for two things. First, that she doesn’t get kicked in the face swimming, and secondly, that she can make it from the water to the bike, from the bike to the run and from the run to the finish line.

I know that I can reach out and communicate with God throughout the course knowing in my heart that the direction I am going in is the right direction. I know that my parents [who have both passed away] would be proud of me and saying “just do your best, leave everything else to God”. But I am sure they are also saying, “Are you crazy?” I know without faith in God and in myself, I would not have completed [these events]. My husband is so supportive with all the training and time I put into this, for that I am so thankful. I am thankful for all my sisters and my aunt who are there cheering me on. Family means everything to me and I couldn’t ask for anything better. I think it’s important that we believe there is someone or something bigger than ourselves looking out for us. With my faith in God, it helps me realize that’s I am loved and that he wants the best for me which is to just be happy whether I finish or not, if I did my best or not. My faith in God assures me of “a good ending” and I know when I cross the finish line, and see my family, it will be a good ending.

Denise says the Spokes & Folks event at Zion added to the triathlon weekend by supporting not just the participants, but the volunteers also.

This is the 7th year that the triathlon has been going on and this was by far the best experience because we were able to fill up with carbs from the spaghetti dinner, we could get our bikes checked out, had amazing speakers and of course the evening church service. I can’t thank Zion enough for coordinating this event for the Buffalo triathlon. It was a wonderful turnout and I hope that we can make this a tradition for the years to come.

Denise suggests anyone thinking about wanting to participate in a triathlon should “just do it.”

The Buffalo Tri club here in Buffalo does training on different days for the swim, bike and run. There are many members that are willing to help out with any questions, they are so supportive. They have the knowledge, the ins and outs of how to train. Don’t ever feel intimidated. I know because I did and I had to get out there and just do my best and that is what makes me continue to do triathlons no matter what. You will be amazed at the outcome. Once you do one, you will want to do another. Always remember “With God, All things are Possible.”

Meanwhile, Denise’s next triathlon is in Annandale in July, so the training continues …

Pictured: Denise Kuhlman after the Buffalo Triathlon with husband, Joe, and son, Joey.