The amazing little athletes are ready to run at the Challenge Athletes Foundation's annual San Diego Triathlon.
I recently remembered why I love what I do, and even better I remembered why life is in and of itself is so precious.
This past October our lululemon La Jolla team was given the job to lead stretches for the kid participants of the Challenged Athletes Foundation's annual San Diego Triathlon. The kids had the choice of running in the Challenged Athletes Kids Run or Sprint (some even ran in both), and we were to get them ready with a big group stretch. To say that these kids inspired me would be an understatement.
Everyone stretching before the run.
Almost ready to run their little hearts out.
The starting line of the Kids Run was packed with pint size kids, all bouncing like Tigger on their running legs, eager and ready for their race. I even tried bouncing along with a few of them, but they were much better than me. As the race horn went off they all took off, the determination on their faces was reminiscent of participants in an Olympic 100m dash. The kids moved so gracefully and were incredibly quick. It was breath-taking to see all of the kids together who to the outside world may look different, but to each other look like family. They were all at home with one another, and though you could feel a competitive spirit in the air, all were rooting for one another and made sure that everyone finished.
Running to the finish line.
The great athletes going to the end.
After their races were over, the kids were free to roam around the fun zone, equipped with an inflatable obstacle course, and scour for autographs from their favorite athletes, Sarah Reinertsen and Scout Basset.
Climbing around after the run.
Hanging out with new friends and howing off the well a deserved medal.
For those of you unfamiliar with challenged athletes, just imagine meeting Serena and Venus Williams or even Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. Sarah was the first female to ever finish the Iron Man triathlon in Kona, Hawaii with a prosthetic leg, and Scout is an up-and-coming star in the racing world. Little girls who look just like Sarah and Scout clenched their Sarah Bears, a teddy bear whose right leg is prosthetic, anxiously waited for autographs and hugs from their idols.
I was truly taken back with Scout, maybe since she is attending UCLA and I myself am a former Bruin. In reality I was taken back with both her courage and character. One little girl burst into tears when it was her turn to meet Scout and gave her a few drawings she had made for her. Scout blushed and welcomed the girl with open arms, and the moment sent a rush of goosebumps through my arms and legs. To the world, Scout may be a girl who has overcome adversity, but to this little girl she was Wonder Woman, and rightfully so.
The girls with their inspiriation, Scout Basset.
Scout’s story is numbing and as an athlete and a person in general, it reminded me to keep dreaming, keep working, and thus keep growing. Scout lost her right leg due to severe burns as a very young child, and was left alone in a Chinese orphanage. It was not until her American family adopted her that she could touch or even imagine a world of possibility both physically and mentally. With the help of CAF and guided by the belief and spirit of her wonderful parents, Scout now regularly participates in triathlons, and most recently completed her first half marathon. Scout is a heroine in the community of challenged athletes, but she is a living reminder of the power of the human mind. It is not our physical advantages or shortcomings that determine our success, but our minds.
The Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) is truly a world leader in providing means for physically challenged individuals to remain active regardless of economic background. This year alone CAF was able to donate $1.5 million to 765 challenged athletes through its Access for Athletes program This funding goes directly towards challenge athletes of all ages for adaptive sports equipment such as running prosthetics and sports wheelchairs, but also coaching and competition expenses.
Scout and all of the amazing athletes I had the pleasure of meeting at the CAF event truly bring a whole new meaning to the phrase "mind over matter", and I hope in reading this you will continue to share and celebrate their stories. Funding and awareness for the Challenged Athletes Foundation continues to grow, and I have created a goal to bring more awareness to their cause in years to come. I strongly encourage everyone to visit their website and learn more about these incredible athletes and wonderful organization and hopefully get involved. In today’s world and economy, we could all use a little inspiration and sense of remembrance as to why life is so immensely precious.
What are you conquering today?