A youth triathlon coach from Oklahoma who helped pull a Schaumburg trustee and his wife out of the rubble after Monday's tornado in the Oklahoma City area will be watching his team participate in a race Sunday in Geneva.
Talbot Cox, 19, coaches HIS Racing, an Oklahoma City-based team of athletes ages 7 to 16 who will participate in the Multisport Madness Team Youth Triathlon at Cadence Health and Fitness Center in Geneva.
This after he was one of a group of people Monday who rescued Schaumburg Trustee Frank Kozak and his wife, Char.
The Kozaks were visiting Char Kozak's brother's family. The couple huddled in a closet when the tornado hit and destroyed the house. Char Kozak suffered arm injuries and head lacerations.
"(Cox) was one of the responders that helped my parents," said Steve Kozak, son of the trustee. "Obviously he helped save their lives, and I'm grateful for that. ... They're grateful for that. Without (the responders), who knows what would have happened."
Cox lives in Oklahoma City just outside the suburb of Moore, which was devastated by the tornado. He and his family sought refuge in a neighbor's underground shelter as the tornado barreled through about four miles away, he said.
When the threat was over, Cox said, he jumped in his car to drive to nearby Wayland Bonds Elementary School in Moore, to make sure one of his athletes, Ash Brayer, was OK.
"I guess it was just instant reflex," he said. "I really take care of all my athletes. I treat them like they're my kids."
Once he saw the school had been spared, he drove further south and saw houses reduced to rubble. Other people started arriving and everyone started digging, he said.
Char Kozak was the first person they helped, he said.
"We started going down the street pulling people out. People would come out crying," he said. "You have no clue who's where. You just go up to the house and hope that there's not a body under the rubble."
There were no deaths in the immediate area, but several horses had to be put down because of their injuries, he said. "I can just hear it in my mind -- all the gunshots going off," Cox said.
Dee Ann Gastineau, whose husband is Char Kozak's brother, said it's a miracle the Kozaks survived. The Gastineaus were both at work when the tornado warnings started.
"They only thing that saved them, I think, is my hot water tank fell on Frank's back," Gastineau said. "The house blew up around them."
"Frank was able to call out of the rubble, and Talbot and other people immediately helped," she said. "Talbot is a hero."
Meanwhile, the race in Geneva will feature about 150 triathletes from Illinois and elsewhere.
"I think the timing's good," Cox said of the race. "I'm very excited -- one of the main reasons I'm pushing the team to go up here is because I think it will be good for them."
Cox's girlfriend, Jennifer Howland of Elburn, is a former member of the MMTT Triathlon Team, now based in Naperville. It was being exposed to MMTT that inspired him to start his own team in Oklahoma, said Cox, a student at Oklahoma City Community College.
"There was no such thing as youth triathlon teams until (founder) Keith Dickson invented MMTT," Cox said. "Now we have (youth triathlon) teams all over the entire nation. That's why I am very excited for this race, and excited for the kids to show up there."