The Journey for Baby Julia: The Nation's Triathlon

Triathlons are full of inspiring stories.

Wendy and Steve Spohn's story is a perfect example of one.

Steve and Wendy’s daughter, Julia, was born on June 9, 2006 in a small hospital in Bamberg, Germany.

One day after Julia was born, Wendy and Steve discovered that Julia had a severe birth defect--she had been born with three heart chambers instead of four.

Both Wendy and Steve were Soldiers in the Army and the entire family was relocated to Washington DC. There, Julia was treated at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center where doctors diagnosed her with Heterotaxy Syndrome.

Since the Spohn's and their one-year-old son, Lukas, had left all their belongings in Germany and had no duty station to call home, they were homeless, until the Ronald McDonald House of Washington DC provided them shelter and food.

“It was a blessing to have a place for our son to take a break from the hospital and just enjoy being a toddler,” Wendy said.

Julia had undergone two major surgeries and was waiting for a liver transplant when sadly, she acquired a hospital-borne infection and passed away at 4 months old.

After Julia’s tragic passing, Wendy and Steve tried several times to have another baby, but each time they miscarried, four times in two years.

During this time of grief and suffering, Wendy was determined to do something challenging and different to pay tribute to the pain her own daughter Julia had endured in her short life.

Wendy decided to embark on an intense physical training program to bring her body fat back under the Army’s requirements and finish a triathlon in honor of her daughter Julia.

Wendy did some research online and discovered that the Nation's Triathlon would be held in DC, on her birthday.

So with only three months till the triathlon, Wendy and her husband Steve embarked in an intensive training program that culminated with their first sprint triathlon last month.

"All the pain that we went through was in honor of her," Wendy declared. “I can gain closure from this experience and be able to move on as we move on to our next duty station."

"We completed this journey together as a family; it means a lot to both of us," Steve Spohn stated with pride.


  1. a great story! they have gone through so much pain with the death of their child and the subsequent micarriages but came up with the strength to do something in their daughter's honor and also to improve their own conditions---very inspiring!

  2. We really appreciate your interest in our story. I hope that this will inspire others to try to move on after tragedy strikes. After all, life does go on and more than likely, someone is depending on you. Thanks again!


  3. Thank you so much for the inspiring comments and for your invigorating life example.