What Is Your Cause?
It’s amazing how life works sometimes, isn’t it? My triathlon career started about 11 years ago as the result of a torn ACL in my left knee during a soccer game. Following months of physical therapy I decided I would only seek out sports that did NOT include a) artificial turf b) cutting and jumping c) quick bursts of speed. Can you say “triathlon”?? Watching pros at a local XTERRA confirmed triathlon would be the sport for me.
The following year I was fortunate enough to get involved in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT). If you are not familiar with TNT, participants compete in endurance events while raising money for cancer patients and their families. Through my engagement with TNT, I was fortunate to start my triathlon career in a positive, encouraging environment which fostered acceptance of all fitness levels – with an ultimate goal of helping make a difference. I can remember sitting at the TNT dinner event the night before the 2002 Chicago Triathlon and seeing empty chairs at the tables, several which were reserved for “Honored Heroes,” cancer patients with whom we were paired up. Unfortunately several of these individuals were not able to attend because of complications with their treatments or worse. It was a humbling and emotional moment for me and one that has certainly stayed with me. I remember being choked up during the bike ride the next day while thinking about my “Honored Hero” and how blessed I was to be given the opportunity to participate on his behalf. It was awesome to think that through triathlon I was helping to make a difference.
In the world of multi-sport, it is so easy to get caught up in the “me” mentality. I think that is why many of us enjoy the positive “team” environment Coach Joe has created with Experience Triathlon. As part of your multi-sport journey with ET, I would encourage you to consider participating in events that support a “cause.” Whether your interest is helping cancer research, fighting hunger, children’s education, AIDS awareness – there are many races and events that provide opportunities to combine fitness with a supporting a cause.
For my wife Wendy and I, the Down syndrome and special needs community has become our “cause.” Our personal interest started eight years ago when our son Evan was born with Down syndrome. Through Evan, we have become involved in a local non-profit organization called GiGi’s Playhouse (http://gigisplayhouse.org/). GiGi’s is a resource center for families of and individuals with Down syndrome, with a mission to increase positive awareness of Down syndrome. As a result, each September we organize the Tour de Gigi’s Charity Bike Ride (www.events.org/tourdegigisbike), which raises funds to support the local Aurora chapter of GiGi’s Playhouse. Through this event we have been able to help increase Down syndrome awareness while raising money for an awesome cause.
This blog isn’t intended to be an advertisement for TNT or GiGi’s, but a note of encouragement to look for opportunities to help make a difference through multi-sport. Consider racing, running or riding for a purpose. I promise you that knowing your participation in an event helped to made a difference will make your experience that much sweeter!
I hope you’ll consider joining me for this wonderful event. I was moved by the following video on how GiGi’s Playhouse makes a difference. Thank you, Joel and Wendy for all you do! – Coach Joe