Balancing the art of competing and keeping everyone engaged can be challenging at points. One of my goals as a mom, coach and athlete is to blend the training and racing with our family values. I believe that you can race, train, and reach goals without a great cost to your family. It requires a fair amount of dedication and planning.
One of the goals in heading over to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in South Africa, was to challenge our kids and make it a learning experience. In the Spring of 2018, Aly had a service project she needed to complete. She came up with the idea to collect school supplies for the kids. We were looking at a couple of different organizations to work with, when I began chatting with some folks working for Ironman about the upcoming World Championships in South Africa.
One thing led to another, and we were connected with Sarah Hartmann from the Ironman Foundation. They happened to be doing some service projects while they were there and schools were one of the target areas. When we departed the US in August, we packed a 50lb bag with everything that Aly had collected. She was so excited to see the kids and give them the supplies. Lugging this baggage around all of Africa for a couple of weeks probably was not our best move but onward.
This experience was one of the most rewarding while we were over there. We traveled by bus to the area where Ironman had just built a small new preschool. It was not a safe area and we were warned to not leave the confines of the school. It was neat for the kids to see how proud they were of this school, it was much different that the ones here in the states. The kids were most surprised at the “playground” which consisted of a small swing set.
We delivered bags with crayons, coloring books, juice boxes and snacks. These kids were ecstatic over their new things. We were able to stay and play with them for a while. This was a great intersection of sports and life. I cannot speak enough great things about Sarah Hartmann and the Ironman Foundation for helping us get the school supplies where they needed to be. There are a ton of events that are held at many races throughout the year so I recommend checking them out.