This past weekend, I had the chance to volunteer (alongside my mom and sister) at the 16th annual Got the Nerve? triathlon, put together by the IM ABLE Foundation and some wonderful sponsors.
From the Got the Nerve? website:
The mission of the IM ABLE Foundation is to remove obstacles that prevent people affected by disabilities from being physically active by providing grants, resources, fitness opportunities and motivation. We change attitudes about the potential of disabled individuals by redefining what is possible. The IM ABLE Foundation hosts two fundraising events each year. The Got the Nerve? Triathlon takes place every May and the RU Able Duathlon in September.
IM ABLE founder, Chris Kaag has an inspiring story all his own, too (read more on their website). His young son gave us volunteers an extra dose of motivation, too. . . We lost count of how many times he rode past us on his own bicycle and aspired to have that energy!
Initially, this was largely something that Mom had an interest in–after working with Ragnar and participating in her own assortment of races, she loves to volunteer at these sorts of events whenever she can. I hadn’t heard of IM ABLE, much less the triathlon, but it definitely sounded like fun!
When we arrived in Mount Gretna early on race day (it’s a bit of a drive from my parents’ home, so we got up early, made plenty of coffee, and hit the road as the sun rose!), we grabbed our volunteer t-shirts (admittedly a huge selling point for our participation, though I was disappointed there were no smalls available!) and found our way to the hospitality tent. Our station prepared drinks and snacks for the participants, like bananas and oranges, bagels, Gatorade, and, of course, water!
We worked with three other lovely women, a mother and daughter pair (like us!) and a young mother who’d done quite a bit of work with IM ABLE and the Got the Nerve? triathlon previously. The group of us got on wonderfully and worked remarkably well together. We even exchanged a few book recommendations!
As the day went on, I learnt more about IM ABLE and found myself enjoying the day more and more. Their efforts really are remarkable. While my own health issues seem minimal compared to those they work with, I felt a kinship to this activism. I may not be directly impacted, but I can empathise more than most!
What hit me most, though, was that the participants were thanking us. I wanted to scream, “You just did a triathlon! I just poured some Gatorade!” Many of these runners/swimmers/cyclists were completely out of breath, but still took the time to say thank you.
I could continue on for thousands of words about the impact this had on me, but I’ll simply say that it was truly an inspiration. As we left, one of our co-volunteers asked if we’d be back next year. And I can say confidently that I think we will!
I hope I can find more chances to help the IM ABLE Foundation, too–starting with sharing them with you in this post!
Be sure to check out the IM ABLE Got the Nerve? Triathlon on their website!