"Creation did not birth you to pay your bills and die."
Indeed. There are many avenues to celebrate, empower, and magnify our true selves -- not to get all incense-burning, new-age-y here. One thing I've discovered is that endurance sport, through the races, events, and the people involved with it, can be an amazing vehicle for raising funds and awareness for charitable causes. I've been fortunate enough to help raise money for different initiatives, through racing, joining charity events, even selling gear and cutting my hair (which, granted, had less athletic involvement). In some cases, contributing to someone else's fundraising has worked out even better. Case in point, donating to my friend Mike (co-founder of Good Guys Tri and all around defcon-5 endurance athlete) as he undertook a 100k run from Ottawa to Montebello to raise money for kids' cancer. "Isn't that farther than a marathon??", asked my awe-struck daughter. "Um... it's actually farther than TWO marathons." Better you than me, Mike. Keep on keepin' on.
My contributions were a only drop in the bucket, but each special cause left me with a renewed feeling of gratitude. For the health that allows me to enjoy the activities I take part in. For the health of my family. For the job that lets me go to the grocery store with my kids and fill the cart with healthy food. In that way, these small gestures to help those less fortunate actually rewarded ME more than I could have imagined. I highly recommend taking up a cause in your endurance pursuits... check out the slightly goofy examples below.
|...to this! For a great cause -- the family of a little boy with special needs.|
|Can you find the non-superhero in this picture? No, it's not the guy in the hoodie... apparently he's legit.|
|Terrible Photoshop and ribbing your coworkers. Putting the "fun" in "fundraising"!|
This year, I'm focusing on a single fundraising effort -- the Lap the Gats ride for Parkinson's research. This is a 3-hour tour (wait -- that sounds ominous) climbing and descending the Gatineau hills on a 21 km loop. Each rider tries to complete as many loops they can, within 3 hours. Or until they drop from oxygen debt, whichever comes first. Looking forward to rocking a road bike (that's not attached to the bike trainer) for the first time in quite awhile! Shameless plug for donations in 3... 2... 1...
I encourage anyone who's signed up for races that have an optional charity component, use it as another way to challenge yourself. Involve your coworkers. Create a team. Let your family know you're looking to support this cause. Tweet, Facebook, do whatever kids do these days that isn't so old school to spread awareness (short of selling tattoo space on your face... maybe don't do that). What you give away will more than come back to you.