The Kids Can Do It!A Highmark Quad Kids Story

Church at 11am, Wilderness Wildcat Ski lessons at 1pm, a birthday party at 3pm and if mom (Jill) and dad (Ashley) are lucky, they might sneak in a run or a little hunting. This is a normal Sunday schedule for the Orris family. Blake (6) and Austin (8) Orris are busy kids and love every minute of it!

The Orris family loves to be on the move and their days are packed with family-friendly, outdoor activities. Three years ago when Jill Orris heard about the Highmark Quad Games, she couldn’t imagine a more perfect event for her family. At that time Blake was 3 and Austin was 5; the boys were just getting started with various organized sports and lessons. Austin was finishing up his first season as a Wildcat with cross country ski lessons at Wilderness Lodge. Jill and Ashley thought they were at the perfect age to join the fun at the Highmark Quad Games and take advantage of the Quad Kids events. Blake signed up for the short kid’s distances (25 yrd swim, ½ mile bike, run and ski) and signed Austin signed up for the long kid’s distances (50 yrd swim, 1 mile bike, run and ski).

The first year participating in the Highmark Quad the Orris’s were join by Jill’s sister and her husband and their two boys, for a real family affair!

On a chilly Saturday night with hot pizza and cold ginger ales, I sat down with Blake and Austin Orris to find out what they really like about participating in the Highmark Quad Kids races and what they are looking forward to most in 2018!

Austin quickly told me that the ski and bike are his favorite events. He says that the bike is most relaxing and he has fun speeding around the 1 mile bike course. He said the ski is a little colder than the bike, but still a lot of fun because it challenges him. He loves downhill skiing and cross country is similar. He especially likes the little downhills on the Quad Kids ski course. Austin tried skate skiing once last year and looks forward to 2018 because he may get better at skate skiing and be able to go even faster on the ski course.

During my interview with Austin, Blake chimed in that his favorite events are the run and ski. He likes to join his mom at Fort Lebouef High School, running laps on the track. He told me that he really likes to run. He enjoys being a member of the Fort LeBouef Elementary School Cross Country team and also likes running on the treadmill. He’s another fan of downhill skiing and he feels that cross country skiing is similar and going down the hills is really fun.

Both boys think the events are fun to participate in, but they did admit the Quad shirts and the snacks at the end of each event, are their favorite. Blake had a little bit of a growth spirt after his first Quad and halfway through the year I got a phone call from him. I heard a little squeaky voice on the other line. It took me a minute to realize it was Blake Orris and he was calling to tell me he outgrew his Quad shirt and since it was his favorite, he was hoping he could get a new one in a bigger size.

At the end of the 2016 Quad games, both boys had completed all four Quad Kids events and they were awarded neon green Quad towels at the Awards Banquet. They told me that they like using the towels during their swim lessons at Edinboro University and after they use the hot tub at their house. They also wanted me to know that they like to remind Harvey Snell (their neighbor and longtime Quad participant) that they have these really cool towels and wonder if he will be able to win one?

The Orris’s are a true Quad family and they embody what the Highmark Quad and YMCA stands for – family, fun and fitness. They look forward to having the run event move to Waterford because it’s right in their backyard and they hope to encourage more of their friends and family to participate in the Highmark Quad Games!

 Austin and Blake Orris – Sporting their Quad Kids Medals after they competed in the 2018 Quad Kids Swim Events.