CURRITUCK COUNTY (WAVY) – With a new school year rapidly approaching, students at Currituck County High School gathered in the gymnasium to hear the story of Chris Nikic.

Nikic is the first person with Downs Syndrome to complete an IRONMAN competition. That feat was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

IRONMAN events consist of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a 26.22 run.

Nikic has completed a total of 16 IRONMAN events and he has a message to everyone, get one percent better every day.

“My message is perfectly clear, get one percent better and work hard and do whatever it takes,” Nikic said.

Since becoming a triathlete, Nikic has won two ESPY awards, he bought a truck, bought his own house and according to his father, he’s also come out of his shell.

“It’s such a stark contrast from what he was before,” Chris’s father Nik said. “Now he’s just living life to the fullest and enjoying himself and he feels included.”

Chris’s message of perseverance and determination is not lost on Currituck’s students and administration.

“When you look at somebody, you don’t judge a book by it’s cover,” said Currituck HS principal Dr. Justin Durham. “You give everybody an opportunity to reach their goals.”

And the students heard his message loud and clear.

“Definitely an inspiration to see someone who comes from way different circumstances than we do yet he still has that mindset to accomplish what to wanted to accomplish and he managed to it,” Currituck senior Morgan Harris said.

Chris Nikic plans to continue to compete in IRONMAN events and continue to spread his message.