If there is one thing I have learned working on ThumbsUp, where I have been racing with my disabled friend Kerry Gruson, is that people want to help. Many of my friends and acquaintances ask if they can be part of the team, if we need an extra swimmer for the Swim For Alligator Lighthouse, a runner for our next 5k. I realize that it is a privilege to do what I do, and I have a feeling we will grow the number of people that are involved in our little ThumbsUp movement.
Even compared to the South Beach Triathlon, Kerry’s first triathlon, we are growing. The Swim For Alligator Lighthouse open water race involves more teammates, more logistics and more financial resources. We are so honored and grateful for our sponsors: The Hilton Key Largo Resort, Athleta, See Me In The Dark, and TriVillage.com. And of course, we can always count on Ultrabikex Studio to join our crazy ideas bike related or not! In the coming weeks, I will be writing some more about how each one joined our cause.
But today I am writing about two unexpected sponsors, both nonprofits who stood up to help us make this adventure a reality.
On an eight-mile open water swim, you need support. This can be in the form of a kayak or a boat. It will take us at the very least six hours to cross the finish and we will need water, food, sunblock and more during the event. Because our main concern is, and will always be, Kerry’s safety we also wanted our support boat to be adaptive. That is, in case of an emergency the boat would be able to receive Kerry and take her back to shore. The Coast Guard will be around, but we all felt better if our support boat was also equipped with adaptions for disabled individuals.
Kerry put us in touch with Captain Mick from Active Disabled Americans, a non profit organization in the Florida Keys that take persons of all abilities on water tours (fishing, snorkeling, etc.) I was told he had a pontoon, and in my mind it was a tiny uncomfortable boat with no shade. Much to my surprise, Captain Mick has a 28 foot pontoon boat, with a cover that provides shade to almost the entire boat.
Not only was he available, but he would volunteer his time and be our team captain. However, we would be responsible for the fuel to run the boat, which was estimated at $300.
We didn’t have $300 to pay for fuel. So we asked around and another group Train2Give immediately volunteered to cover our costs. Train2Give is a group of athletes from the Key Biscayne, Florida area who raise funds through training. They then distribute these funds to different initiatives both in the United States and Latin America. In fact, they have donated funds to another superb organization Care2Tri who guided me in the entire process of getting ready for the South Beach Triathlon.
And boom. Just like that, we now had our support boat and fuel. Two huge pieces of the puzzle solved thanks to the generosity of two small non profits wanting to make a difference.