Meet Victor, Alonzo, and David, collectively known as V.A.D. All seniors in high school, these three young men have taken on the challenge of training for and then competing in a 70.3 Ironman. They are doing this with no similar experience and no previous training to give them a boost in their preparations. The challenge they’ve taken on is insane – and they’re doing it for a good cause.
For those who don’t know (which included me until about a year ago), a 70.3 Ironman, also know as a Half Ironman, is a triathlon. The boys will have to swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles. Their trainer is a veteran triathlete who qualified for the 70.3 Ironman world championships in Las Vegas this past year, so the boys are in good hands in the months leading up to the race. That being said, they certainly have their work cut out for them!
V.A.D. are living examples of avoiding complacency and doing hard things. As Alonzo says in their introductory video: “I just want to make a difference and show people that they could do something with a lot of effort and practice.” David echos his sentiments by saying “The reason I wanted to do the Ironman is because I wanted to challenge myself and to do something that I believe was insane and to prove to myself that I could do anything if I put my mind to it.” And Victor? He talks about wanting to make it the world championships! All of this with no prior training but with tons of hard work and effort.
It doesn’t end there, though. They’ve taken their personal challenge and are using it as a platform to draw attention to an important issue. Victor, Alonzo, and David belong to an organization called Focus on Community, which educates young people about substance abuse prevention. Through their training, the boys are raising both funds and awareness for the work that Focus does. As Alonzo says in the video, “I grew up with Focus on Community. In a way, you know, it’s attached to me, and its a good opportunity to show people what we’re about, and how we limit the drug and alcohol abuse in our community, and make our community clean and alcohol and substance free.” I love that they’ve taken a personal goal and tied to a cause bigger than themselves.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that I’ve known about these teens and their goals for a while, and it just now occurred to me that I should write a blog post about them. I would be overstating things if I said I know them. It’s more accurate to say that I’ve met them. I’ve had random contact with one or two of them this year, particularly at the Teen Institute retreat I helped chaperon over the summer. My connection is their trainer, who has been my husband’s best friend since high school. I knew these boys were taking on a huge challenge, but I didn’t think much more of it.
However, this morning I was killing time on Facebook, watching their videos and reading their website, when I realized that they’re living out the kind of life I want to see teens embrace. They’re taking on a seemingly impossible task, rising to the challenge, and then using the opportunity to draw attention to an important issue. That’s exactly what I mean when I speak to the incredible potential of the teen years.
And then I read these words on their Facebook page: “People have been asking how they can help the boys in their cause, and we want to thank everyone for their interest. The best thing you can do is keep spreading (sharing) the word about what they are doing.”
I can do that. I can share their story. So go check out their pages (linked below). Watch their videos. Follow their story. Let’s see what kind of support we can wrangle up for V.A.D. in their pursuit of 70.3!