when mind conquers matter

ready to run
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
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.

race time
 Running to the finish line.

smiling runners
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
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.

running star
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.



ready for the next run

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This post is truly inspiring and shows some great little athetles reaching the finish line with nothing stopping them! Whitney, you did a great job capturing these athletes rock it.

Comment by Shawna — December 7, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

This is such a heartfelt and lovely post:) These children have been given quite a few “lemons” but have chosen to make the best lemonaid possible I think. Each and every one of these kids are role models…and by reading about them and how they can accomplish whatever they put their mind to, helps me to put things back into perspective and realize that my goals are attainable. It may take some hardwork and time, but I’ll get there :) So thank you to these children for being strong little human beings :)

Comment by Lasha — December 7, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

Thanks for sharing! This is amazing!

Comment by Lara — December 7, 2009 @ 4:35 pm

Awesome awesome awesome!!!! Looks like a ton of fun in the sun.

Comment by Nick — December 7, 2009 @ 5:15 pm

This article is so well written about these kids that
are such inspirations, and that are so full of life.
I was there to watch these kids run, and it brought
tears to my eyes to see them run through the finish
line. I myself am a amputee and I can testify how
hard it is to run with a prosthetic. And yes I too
was so nervous when I first met Sarah and Scout!!
These kids make the earth a better place along with
the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Comment by Becky — December 7, 2009 @ 5:59 pm

Aww soo cute and heartwarming!! Thanks for sharing. AWESOME AND AMAZING! :)Thanks!

Comment by Lulu — December 7, 2009 @ 6:07 pm

So glad you shared this important experience. You touched me, and I look forward to supporting these awesome, strong kids.

Comment by Lauren Clapperton — December 8, 2009 @ 12:04 am

Whitney, you did a great job of capturing what was such an inspirational event for all of us. Nancy and our friends at the Challenged Athletes Foundation introduced us to this incredible group of athletes and we can’t wait to work with them in the future!

Comment by Catherine — December 8, 2009 @ 8:36 am

Thanks Whitney for sharing this great story and reminding us that truly – it’s mind over matter when it comes to challenges & obstacles in our lives. this looked like such a fun event & i’m glad that lululemon was able to help make a difference. great job lululemon la jolla!

Comment by Marisa — December 8, 2009 @ 10:28 am

Inspiring! What a fantastic post, thank you for sharing!

Comment by Matt McDemott — December 8, 2009 @ 10:33 am

Thank you Whitney, Catherine, Kirsten and all of the La Jolla store and staff. Lululemon was an amazing partner and we look forward to working with you all more in the future!

Comment by Nancy — December 8, 2009 @ 12:22 pm

Such a beautifully written piece. It brought goosebumps to my entire body. Thank you for sharing, and making me a little more thankful for healthy life I live.

Comment by Jen — December 8, 2009 @ 1:07 pm

Fantastic article as well as an event! I work with the lululemon team in San Jose at the Santana Row store and I am going to start getting our team involved with CAF up here as well–all thanks to you! Is there any way you could contact me to give me more information on how we can go about doing this? I’d really appreciate it! =]

Comment by Bri — December 9, 2009 @ 5:08 pm

Hey Bri-

That’s amazing!! I will email your store account our contact.


Comment by Whitney — December 10, 2009 @ 10:13 am

Wow, how truly inspiring. These kids are really living life.

Comment by Brian — December 11, 2009 @ 7:56 pm

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