The 3M Positive Impact Award winners were announced this week. The award, sponsored entirely by 3M, recognizes twenty “regular individuals” who work for a greater good. They will be recognized at a gala on April 3rd at Hispanicize, the largest annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in social media, journalism, advertising, PR, film, music and innovation. The 3M Positive Impact Awards were created in honor of Louis Pagan, one of Hispanicize’s founder who suddenly passed away in February of 2013. I have known the folks at Hispanicize for a couple of years now, but I didn’t know Louis though I have heard of his giving nature. I thought an award like this was a wonderful tribute to him but I never expected to be one of the twenty winners.
When I heard I was one of the fifty finalists I was surprised. It turns out Joe, my husband and number one supporter, had nominated me.
I mean, there are so many issues affecting Latinos in the United States today from immigration to human trafficking what I had I done about that?
Then I remembered a story. An old man and his grandson were walking down a beach where thousands of sea stars had washed up on shore after a storm. The old man would bend down, pick one up, and throw it back in the ocean in essence saving its life. He would stop every couple of feet to do it again. The grandson, who wanted to walk faster asked him “Why do you do that? There are too many to be saved. What does it matter?” The grandfather bent down, picked a sea star and threw it far into the ocean. He replied: “it mattered to that one.”
No one can save the world, I certainly have no intention of doing it. There are problems that shock me, issues that move me. I did spend some time in the nonprofit field, but that time has passed, at least for now. I am not going to be the one fixing the situation in Venezuela or ensuring Hispanic children have access to a great education. I am however, the mom that will teach their children empathy as I wrote about here.
I am very well aware I didn’t do anything to deserve the life I have, the education I have received and the opportunities that have presented themselves. It could’ve happened to some other Cristina, and I could’ve been born to a teenage girl in a Brazilian favela. And so I have lived my life feeling the responsibility of giving back, of helping that person who for one reason or another, wasn’t as lucky.
As I travelled through life, this sense of responsibility has manifested itself differently. As a child I would volunteer, when I lived in Chile I founded a nonprofit working with underserved communities, back in Miami I worked in homeless advocacy … life kept changing and I would allow myself to go with the flow.
I ended up here. As a triathlete writing about my journey on TriathlonMami.
Triathlons have become my platform to citizenship, to do my part. I’ve cheered women like myself to get off the couch, I’ve fundraised for causes I believe in, I rode my bike across Florida promoting road safety, I co-founded Bike Key Biscayne and lead community bike rides and now I am spreading around some positivity as I pull Kerry in the ThumbsUp campaign. Triathlons have become more than a quest for the finish line.
I am not a fast person. I am not super slow, but put it this way, I won’t be standing on a podium anytime soon. So for example, my only chance of every qualifying for Ironman Kona (the world championships which you qualify by being in the top percent of your age group) is maybe in my 80s if I can still do this and my competition dies off. Seriously!
So being able to race triathlons for a different goal feels wonderful and natural to me. It’s a “well duhh” thing. I don’t see it as a sacrifice, as a problem, as doing anything special. Sure I’ve done the stuff I wrote about but none of it seems “special” it seems necessary.
I read the bios of the other 3M Positive Impact Award winners and that is when the humility kicked in. They are doing lots of things: in the arts, medicine, mental health, literacy, around the world and around the corner. So to win an award for something that seems so normal is well … humbling.
And I am honored.
Take a look at the awardees and vote for the person you believe embodies the good neighbor, the positive impact, the award is meant to reflect. On the top of each bio is a link that says: “Vote For Me”. You can only vote once and for one person. Each profile has a Twitter link and Facebook so feel free to share and spread the word.
Also, on Monday March 3 at 9:00pm there will be a Twitter Party called Vote Positive. I will “be there” as I can’t wait to chat it up with the other winners and be inspired by our collective work. If you want to join, RSVP here: http://bit.ly/1jZGgFW
As I speak about the 3M Positive Impact Award, and ThumbsUp campaign with Kerry it is impossible to not be optimistic, motivated and empowered. I know I can’t change the world, but I can be a part of the solution instead of the problem. I can be the old man throwing sea stars in the ocean and am so very grateful to be part of this whole thing.
How about you? Do you feel you are a positive impact to the world around you? Who inspires you?