A first triathlon for Boys & Girls Clubs members teaches more than running, biking and swimming.
By Becky Medina, May 2014
Have you ever been in the right place and the right time? A cycle of events and good fortune occurred and as I helped seven Boys & Girls Club members get their packets and have their numbers written on their arms for the Mini Mortals Triathlon, it was hard to believe everything that happened to get us here….
Last year the Kirk “Rocky” Derichweiler Memorial Foundation donated money to the Boys & Girls Clubs for a bike program. We wanted to get the best bikes for the money, but anyone who has worked in nonprofit knows that we try to stretch our dollars as far as they will go. In August 2013 I ran in to Dr. Christine Rochester who works with Outdoor Education program at CSU -Pueblo. I told her about the funding and asked if she had any ideas. Not long after she called me and said that she saw that Great Divide could apply for matching dollars for a nonprofit. If this worked we could essentially double our money! Kevin and Lee were fantastic. Dr. Rochester put together the proposal and Kevin and Lee submitted it. We were elated to hear it had been granted. Now we could purchase bikes, helmets, locks and a trailer to transport the bikes and expand our program.
Kim Arline attended our check presentation. She was so helpful and offered to help with bike safety programs and also asked if SCR and SoCoTri Club would consider granting scholarships for 10 Club members to join the youth Tri Club.
And so here we were. 10 kids who kinda knew how to swim, and some who didn’t even have a pair of running shoes. I would get teary watching the kids during the clinics as they learned techniques, side by side gifted coaches (Gwen Steves, Paul Dallaguardia, Ken Sharp, Kim Arline and Mike Orendorff) who had completed ironmen competitions. I enjoyed every practice, watching them learn and do new things. Thanks to the generosity of Shelby Austin, Rob Archuleta and Addict to Athlete 15 kids got to test their skills in the indoor tri in February. As the day got closer to the Mini Mortals triathlon, fears crept into the kids thoughts: “It’s too hard!”; “I can’t finish.”; “What if I drown?” No different than the thoughts that go through most first timer’s heads.
That morning the kids were super nervous and one of the older boys said; “We are staying together!” Now I have seen enough youth races to know that the minute the gun goes off it is usually every man for himself, but I told him that sounded like a great idea.
Watching the race was so thrilling. It was difficult seeing their pained expressions on the bike as they reached the top of the hill and were told how many more laps they had. Wind, heat and hills oh my! I am happy to report that every kid finished! Even the kid who didn’t think he could finish the bike.
As I talked with him and told him how proud I was and asked how he felt during the race he said: “I wanted to quit, but every time I stopped running Damian and Christian would wait for me and Christian did an extra lap on the bike to stay with me.”
I am so proud of every one of them. Proud that they took a risk to try something new; proud for the time they spent training; proud that they showed up; proud that they finished; and proud that some of them set their egos aside to make sure everyone crossed the finish line.
Thank you to Gwen Steves, Kim Arline, Paul Dallaguardia, Mike Orendorff, Ken Sharp, SoCo TriClub, SCR, Great Divide, and the Kirk “Rocky” Derichweiler Memorial Foundation. Without the collective efforts of these individuals and groups this never would have been possible.