Giving Back Can Be Fun

This is that time of year when we reflect on what we’ve got, give thanks, and look for ways to give back to our communities. We all do that in our different ways, through the time, talent, and treasure we have at our disposal. Maybe it’s making the cornbread stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner (that’s my job), or committing to an Ironman to raise money for local charities (which I will leave to my brother Andrew).

For those of you who don’t know, an Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike-ride and then, a marathon. In total, it’s a race of 140.6 miles. In August of 2013, he completed his first full Ironman in Lake Tahoe, California in around 16 hours. This year, he took a “break” by doing a half Ironman and volunteering at the Boulder Ironman near his home in Denver, but is now back to training for another full. On August 2, 2015, he’ll be racing in the Boulder Ironman himself. To make it even better, he is racing to give back to the community.

AndrewBikePutting on an Ironman is a huge event, with volunteers working long hours to keep athletes going when they might be ready to quit. “I always say thank you to the volunteers but I have always thought that there was more I could do,” Andrew said. He discovered the Ironman Foundation, which provides a way for athletes to raise money through their event, money which is then donated back to the community. In many instances, it goes back into youth sports initiatives. These young athletes make up many of the race day volunteers, allowing Andrew directly to support those who have supported him through grueling days. “with some schools cutting back on physical education funding,” he continued, “this would help them along.”

10 years ago, Andrew returned home from serving in the Peace Corps in Ukraine, teaching english and business at a local college. Upon coming home, he began building his career, and hasn’t been as active in the community as he would have liked. He decided it was time to change that with this race. “I was thinking about how I hadn’t volunteered as much as I would like,” he said, “so this would combine sports and volunteerism.”

We all give back to the community in our own ways, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. Do what you enjoy, which might be knitting scarves for the homeless, or doing a race of 140 miles, if that’s your thing. What are you thankful for this year, and how can you share your gratitude?