Kipp Kinsley’s Memory to be Honored at Weekend Events in Yankton, SD

Kipp Kinsley’s Memory to be Honored at Weekend Events in Yankton, SD

YANKTON, SD--Yankton, SD, native Kipp Kinsley was ready to start his career as a professional triathlete — only to die of a heart condition one day after winning the 2018 Yankton triathlon.

As a professional triathlete, Kipp Kinsley returned to his hometown a year ago this weekend and won “Yankton’s Best Tri” — a grueling test of combined running, biking and swimming.

A day after his triumph in one of the Midwest’s toughest triathlons, the 25-year-old man passed away, to the shock of family and friends.

Jon and Shelly Kinsley later learned their son had suffered from a previously unknown cardiac condition.

“Although he was an exceptional athlete with no outward health concerns, we found out that Kipp had an undetected condition in the electrical system of his heart that caused a fatal arrhythmia,” Jon said. “Sadly, fatal arrhythmia is one of the leading causes of death in young athletes.”

Kipp was a top runner for Yankton High School and NCAA Division I member South Dakota State University. He developed and maintained a passion for the triathlon. Shortly before his death, he had qualified as a professional triathlete and had joined the “Nor’Easter” program in New England.

He was preparing for a return to Massachusetts after last year’s Yankton triathlon, ready to resume his career.

In honor of his memory, his family has started the “Kipp Kinsley Memorial 5K,” scheduled for Friday evening. They have also started the BeKipp Foundation, which raises money for a number of causes.

The activities continue Saturday morning with the annual “Yankton’s Best Tri,” with its Facebook page containing the tribute line based on Kinsley’s motto: “Finish Your Race Well.”

Jon Kinsley said his son would be proud to be associated in such a way with his hometown and its triathlon tradition, which he said dates back to the 1980s. The triathlon has grown through the years, he added.

In the months before his death, Kipp had dealt with both ups and downs with his athletic career, Jon said.

“Last year) was a pivotal year for his triathlon profession. In March, he completed the Houston 70.3, which is a half-Ironman event. He took second place overall, and that qualified him for a professional triathlon,” Jon said.

“That was one of Kipp’s major accomplishments. He finished in 3:59, which is quite a big thing. You look at professional triathletes, and breaking 4 hours is their goal. Kipp did it in his first 70.3 half-Ironman triathlon.”

After achieving that milestone, Kipp developed physical setbacks, Jon said.

“Unfortunately, after the race, Kipp didn’t feel well. He had a lot of fatigue, so he took time off,” Jon said. “He did go to the East Coast to join the Nor’Easter Team in Massachusetts. He was just feeling better and had done a little bit of training in Yankton. He did the Yankton triathlon and was heading back East.”

But those dreams were never realized.

The Kinsley family started the 5K walk/run/bike for a number of reasons. They wanted to keep Kipp’s memory alive, but they also wanted to use the cause of his death as an opportunity to build awareness and hopefully save lives.

“We will be offering a bit of education (about the heart condition) and the foundation,” Jon said. “We’re also doing something unique. We’ll draw two names from those registered for the 5K and give away two AEDs (automated electronic defibrillators). The persons whose names are drawn can each designate which organization, church, school or other place will receive the AED.”

“We want people to have a sunset experience, which is why we chose that time for the walk, run and bike,” Jon said. “This isn’t a competitive or timed event. Anyone is welcome to attend and to participate as we remember Kipp.”

However, the event is much more than scenery and exercise. There is no charge this year, but T-shirts are $15, and any proceeds from the sales will go to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation.

“The evening will include educational information about arrhythmia that takes far too many lives,” Jon said.

In addition, a freewill donation will be taken for the BeKipp Foundation, which funds two Yankton High School scholarships for endurance athletes, sponsors area teams and provides AEDs.

“We’re also increasing awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest and what any and all individuals can do to save a life in those situations,” Jon said.

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SOURCE: Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan

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