As you can read here, our team ThumbsUp participation at the Swim For Alligator Lighthouse where four swimmers pulled our disabled teammate on a dinghy for six plus hours, was a success. Yet in truth, the Team was not just the five of us. The team included our families and significant others who helped us throughout the process. From husbands who took over kid duty while we swam, to helpers who schlepped equipment from one place to another, everyone pitched in. The Hilton Key Largo Resort understood that about us, and made sure we were all taken care of from the moment we set foot on the property.
Jillian, our contact, had already finished for the day when our group began to arrive on Friday night. Yet she made sure to come back around with her husband to greet us. And in our rooms was a care package with goodies for everyone, including a backpack for each of the kids.
That night, the hotel was serving s’mores by a bonfire on the beach. We headed there for a quick team meeting while the kids burned some energy. However, because we raced on Saturday morning we didn’t have much time to linger around at the resort.
The following race day, in mid sea near the alligator lighthouse, we noticed a boat with people who kept waving at us and giving us a thumbs up. “That’s nice,” I thought. I guessed it was another support boat whose swimmer was nearby. They stayed around and eventually someone recognized Jillian from the Hilton! She was on the boat, supporting us, taking pictures and sending them to her staff at the hotel. Being an HR manager, she understands the value of teamwork.
Between Caryn and I, we have five boys under ten, and they had spent the past four Sundays together as us moms had swim practice. While we were racing, the dads rented a boat near the hotel and took the boys snorkeling as the Florida Keys are known for its reefs and clear water. Then, they too headed towards the lighthouse to see us race. I was swimming when they reached us, but saw them at the turnaround. It was one of the many highlights of my day.
Though it wasn’t until Sunday when we finally had some time to relax and enjoy the hotel. Our first activity was the ScoutAbout adventure program. The boys picked up a map that led them to twelve points around the property. In each one, they had to find something from nature: from a manatee to a gumbo limbo tree. Also at each location, they collected a bracelet and were instructed to return to the front desk when they had retrieved all twelve. There, the boys exchanged their bracelets for one they could take home, completed a certificate they attached to the board, and were hence entered in a raffle.
Meanwhile, those without kids had a bit more time to relax.
The non stop kid crew headed to the gift shop to purchase some bait and borrow fishing rods. I love the ocean, but I am not fond of fishing, but fishing here makes anyone feel like an expert. Under the pier right next to the beach are hundreds of fish. You can see them through the crystal water trying to steal the bait. We caught a couple, and much to my dismay I became one of the “baiters” splitting shrimp in pieces and hooking them onto the rods. Gross. I feel bad for the fish, and drew the line when it came to unhooking them.
Though some swam at the beach, we didn’t have time to participate in the many recreation activities available. It was the typical “so much to do so little time” though we could see people on paddleboards, kayaks and jet skis on the bay. The water was stunning.
But alas, all good things must come to an end and so did our weekend. And as if all the details that made our stay special weren’t enough, at check-out I had an experience that put it all together. I was wearing my ThumbsUp t-shirt and the concierge asked me if I was part of the team that swam yesterday. I proudly said yes, and she mentioned that Jillian had told them about us and sent them pictures of what we were doing. It then made sense to me. The Hilton Key Largo Resort knew how to make not just the swimmers but all of us comfortable because they understand the value of teamwork. No one can go at this thing called life alone … whether we are part of a racing team or a hotel crew, it is important to recognize all those people who pitch in to make special things happen.
Thank you Hilton Key Largo Resort, for your sponsorship, hospitality, and being a part of our team.