Brief side note for today. For years, Mockingbird has supported my brother’s fundraising efforts for the Challenged Athletes Foundation – a non-profit that provides grants to help physically challenged people with the tools they need to pursue an active and healthy lifestyle. Their seminal event was held last weekend – a triathlon in San Diego.
Notes from Paul’s thank you email:
My Challenged Athletes’ weekend started on Friday night as I rushed from coaching soccer practice to the annual Celebration of Abilities event held in conjunction with the San Diego Triathlon Challenge. The evening serves as a kickoff for the weekend, a ceremony for annuals awards, but mostly as an opportunity for introduction and socializing between and amongst challenged athletes and fundraisers. I’m always struck by something on these evenings be it a particular inspiring story or a chance encounter. This year the biggest impact was the realization that many of the attendees, particularly the younger ones, were meeting their heroes for the first time. Unlike a wide-eyed kid meeting LeBron James in complete awe, these kids’ motivation was entirely different. They didn’t want an autograph or to see a championship ring, they wanted to ask questions like, “how did you deal with kids teasing you about your prosthetic leg?” or “What do you do when you feel like the world is unfair?” These interactions reminded just how important the community that CAF builds really is. As Lorna Day, mother of Sam, who unfortunately lost his life to cancer in August but not before having years of incredible experiences generated by CAF, stated:
“This community nurtured Sam’s spirit in a way in which we, his family, could not.”
The other highlight of the Celebration of Abilities evening was the introduction of these sixteen members of the US Paralympic team (45% of the US team was supported by CAF) who had returned from Rio, many sporting medals of gold, silver and bronze. Hearing their passionate description of the life changing experience was inspiring.
As part of the second wave of Gold Team members who had raised significant funds above the minimum requirements, I dove into the water on the heels of 94 Challenged Athletes who had entered in the first wave to start my mile swim. Twenty-three minutes later I was the first Gold Team member to exit the Pacific. My enthusiasm was only slightly tempered when Lisa noted that I had swum about thirty second slower than Rudy Garcia-Tolson a double leg amputee who had led the Challenged Athletes wave.
To my Mockingbird clients – a trickle down thank you for making my support of this outstanding organization possible.