Yesterday I was able to attend a practice of our new Exercise to Achievement program at Glendale Elementary. It was a special day, as the students from Glendale received a special gift from TYR and the Fireman Rob Foundation – 25 pairs of swim goggles and 25 water bottles. This was an awesome surprise, and made the kids incredibly excited! You can really tell how thrilled they were to get such a special gift (and notice the priceless toothless grins):
We were honored to have these items donated, because as you may know from previous posts, many of the kids in our program do not have the funds to purchase the equipment needed to make a triathlon a successful and smooth experience. Anyone who’s done a triathlon can vouch that there is a lot of “gear” involved, and if our primary goal with Tri 4 Schools is to fight childhood obesity, then the barrier of providing gear is a necessary hurdle to jump.
Thanks to companies like TYR and Fireman Rob Foundation, as well as countless others who have pitched in to help make this happen, we have six groups like the one below training for our Waunakee triathlon next week.
As I watched the group start running to the pool, many of them with towels flying behind them like super heroes, some wearing their brand new goggles in the bright afternoon sunlight, I got a little teary. I can’t believe this has become a reality after nearly two years of planning! Not only was this group of kids training to complete a triathlon, but there were other things I noticed that really warmed my heart:
- This group was diverse in every sense – ethnically, racially, different grades, a perfect mix of boys and girls, and every shape and size. It makes me so happy to know that this program has attracted kids of every type – because we need every person to be healthy for a healthy future.
- On the way to the pool, one of the little girls, who happened to be white, stopped to tie her shoe. The girl next to her, a black girl, stopped to help, and then they held hands as they started running to catch up with the group. I’d like to think that is a normal thing, but the more I read about our community these days and the disparity that still exists, the more I treasure those moments. I’m so happy that Glendale has helped foster this attitude, and hopefully our program continues to emphasize it.
- The word of the day for practice was Perseverance. We had the kids talk about not giving up and to keep going when things get hard. The kids took turns sharing what that meant for them, and I can’t wait to see this in practice next Saturday during the day.
Everywhere I looked, I saw the role of so many people in our community that helped this come in to being: teachers who gave time and energy to creating our curriculum, who were paid for by a grant from the Foundation for Madison’s Public Schools, pool time and lifeguards paid for by the Madison Area Sports Commission, snacks for the kids courtesy of Hy-Vee, Woodman’s, Willy Street Co-op, and Metcalfe’s, running shoes and swim caps courtesy of Fleet Feet. All of our kids will also receive program t-shirts and transportation to the race courtesy of Dean & St. Mary’s and UW Health. We are SO THANKFUL for everyone who has believed in our program and in our mission.