I’m a better person while working on a ThumbsUp project. It’s just a fact. I smile more, am nicer to strangers, and am certainly a more patient mom. It’s not always like that of course, and like every overextended mom at 7:00pm I sometimes yell at my kids. Sometimes it’s a bark, but often it’s a scream.
It’s not something I am proud of, and I do try to change. I explain to my boys that my love for them will never end, yet sometimes I don’t love the way they act. If by the end of the day I am tired, hungry, and my to-do list is still long we need to act as a team. Otherwise cranky mami comes out.
After I yell, I also apologize. I tell them I am trying my best, and without their help, we can’t do everything we want to do. It makes no sense to build ThumbsUp with love, care and dedication just to turn around and be a witch to my kids.
(ThumbsUp are projects I work on with my quadriplegic friend Kerry Gruson you can read about it here.)
And it’s not like my husband is out of the picture. Joe knew Kerry before I did, and supports us both 100%. He is happy to take over kid duty while we train, but he is also a busy business guy who works hard all week and travels often. We need to do this together; we all need help.
When we talk about it that way, the boys (ages 7 and 8) seem to understand, be less self-centered and begin to work with me. They absolutely LOVE Kerry, and they love the hoopla that comes with training from logistics, to equipment, to pushing her around on her wheelchair.
Kerry taught me:
I am nothing without a team, I cannot do anything alone. Not because I am disabled but because we all need help from others. It’s something my disability made it easier for me to understand and communicate. One of my core beliefs is that by letting people help you, you are actually giving them a gift. Allowing them to feel useful, good and generous. I don’t feel diminished asking for help, I feel empowered because I am helping somebody.”
This is true also for my family, as well as for the other three team members pulling Kerry at the Swim For Alligator Lighthouse, an 8-mile open water swim in Islamorada. We have exchanged hundreds of emails, some in English, many in Spanglish and a couple in jibberish (those would be mine.) Everyone chips in.
Our main expense, and biggest concern, was accommodations. Not only are there five racers, but we are bringing our families with us because, as I say above, they are a part of the team. We WANT our children to be involved. Not just in watching us race, but in actually helping out in the small ways they can. That makes for quite a crew to lodge.
I sent emails to many of the hotels in the area asking for support. As a marketer, I also offered promotion of their brand in exchange for accommodations. It’s a “spaghetti in the wall” approach: throw a handful and one might stick.
I am used to hearing “no” as an answer. If I got discouraged I wouldn’t do anything. Still, I was floored when I got this response:
Our team at the Hilton Key Largo Resort would be honored to partner with you for this great cause.
I spoke to them and explained how our families were an integral part of our team, how we were a big group, and needed to stay the entire weekend. Their response was the Hilton Key Largo supports many causes and looks for opportunities to be involved in the community. They explained the resort is a family resort, with lots of activities for kids and grown-ups alike.
I tried to contain my excitement but was not very successful!
Not only is the hotel close to the race site, it’s full of amenities. Unlike many places in the Keys, the Hilton Key Largo Resort has a private beach with tons of watersports: from kayaking and paddle boarding to parasailing and diving. It also has two outdoor pools. Though quite honestly, after swimming 8 miles on Saturday I sincerely doubt you will find me in a kayak. This will most likely be me:
Or who knows, they also have pool side massages … there is no doubt we will be sore (Joe – hint, hint.)
I told the Hilton Key Largo Resort our entire team would promote them as much as possible. They are, after all, our biggest sponsor.
Their reply was:
that is not why we are doing it. We look forward to being part of the team.
I love corporations who think this way. At a large scale, the Hilton Key Largo Resort embodies what I feel when working on ThumbsUp. It just feels good to be part of something positive and empowering. So even if they are not asking for it, I want to scream out to the world about our sponsor, it’s amenities, and hope that if you visit the Florida Keys, you check them out.
We certainly will, and I’ll tell you all about it when we come back from our adventure there. In the meantime, we wanted to send a heartfelt thank you to the Human Resources department who handled our request. I hope that like myself, you can smile and put a spring on your step as you think about how helpful you were. We are so very grateful.
Have you ever been to the Florida Keys? Have you stayed at the Hilton? Give us tips!
Photo Credit: Hotel and hotel activity pictures from www.KeyLargoResort.com