Florida Coach Helps Man with Down Syndrome Compete in Ironman

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By Brittany Kasko

Dan Grieb, 45 years old, was looking for a way to change his life. 

After waking up one morning and facing the fact that he was overweight and needed to do something about it, he decided to embrace a compelling new challenge. 

Grieb of Orlando, Florida, joined “America’s Newsroom” on Friday morning to discuss the journey he took to a healthier lifestyle — and how that decision led him to coach others. 

“I woke up one day … I was 120 pounds overweight. I was a good husband and a good dad and just didn’t believe I could have it all,” he said. 

The Florida man decided to challenge himself by setting the goal of competing in 10 Ironman competitions — and to lose 100 pounds, he hoped. 

“I said I’ll complete 10, I’ll lose 100 pounds and then I’ll retire,” he said. 

But after finishing his 10th competition and losing the 100 pounds, he was still feeling unfulfilled. 

So he decided to coach Chris Nikic, a man with Down syndrome, to compete in a full Ironman distance race competition. 

Grieb said he wanted to give the gift of completing the competition to someone like Nikic. 

“People like [Chris] have been told their entire life [that] they wouldn’t amount to much,” he said. 

In November 2020, Nikic completed his first-ever full distance Ironman triathlon, which included a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.22-mile marathon run. 

Grieb said that coaching Nikic was an honor for him and something for which he’s grateful.

He said that spending his time helping someone with Down syndrome complete such a challenging task was extremely rewarding. 

When discussing character, Grieb explained that people don’t acquire more of it until they use it. 

“In an Ironman competition, being a husband, being a father, being a mother — it requires character, and that’s the foundation and fabric of our country. That’s what makes us great,” he said. 

Grieb said to remember that if you have a person with Down syndrome in your family — that person is an angel.  

November 18, 2022

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