Ever since we started doing triathlons, we’ve always wanted to complete the Ironman distance. After volunteering for the 2011 Ironman in Madison, Wisconsin we were inspired beyond words. The love, support, encouragement and passion we witnessed by both athletes and spectators was indescribable. From families all wearing matching t-shirts with inspirational messages; to complete strangers cheering one another on; to volunteers from all over the mid-west giving back in some small way to help these athletes… the SPIRT of the IRONMAN was so evident and truly a life changing experience for us.
Every year we watch the Hawaiian Ironman coverage on NBC and are always moved and inspired. Within the coverage, almost every year they say that from 11:00pm to midnight is the GREATEST HOUR in all of sports. We thought that was probably a true statement but not until we witnessed it first hand. Within that final hour of the Ironman Sunday night we watched a 70+ year old woman barely cross the finish line on her feet…a firefighter finish with all of his gear (including a tank), a 54 year old man finish with 50 seconds to spare and our favorite moment of the day was when a woman crossed the line 43 seconds past 17 hours… just missing the official Ironman cutoff. Now when I say it was our favorite moment of the day, I mean it in the sense that it was a single moment that truly exemplified the spirit of Ironman in all of its glory. It was a moment that we will never forget because as we looked around the finish line we both realized that there were MORE people watching the last woman cross the line that the first place finisher. In what other sporting event do people cheer with more passion and love for LAST place than they do for FIRST?
We are excited beyond words to begin this journey towards Ironman Wisconsin 2012, and experience the Ironman spirit first hand. There is one other important part of this race that is going to keep us motivated. We wanted to find some small way to give back to the heroes that fight for our freedom everyday. Thank you to all the men and women who fight tirelessly everyday so that we can enjoy all the freedoms that this great country has to offer. We appreciate all that you do and with each step during our race next year we'll be thinking of you and knowing that while our pain will last only during the race, your loved ones left behind will experience a lifetime of pain. We hope our small fundraising efforts help in some way to carry on your legacy and show our appreciation for all you sacrifice. Below you can read more about the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and what a great charity it is.
Thank you for your support!
Brittany and Alex
P.S. Follow our journey through our training blog: http://alexbrittironman2012.tumblr.com/
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation mission is devoted to providing a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations during an operational or training mission. The forces covered by the Foundation are some 50,000 military special operations and support personnel stationed in units throughout the United States and overseas bases.
The Warrior Foundation is currently committed to providing scholarship grants, not loans, to more than 760 children. These children survive over 600 Special Operations personnel who gave their lives in patriotic service to their country, including those who died fighting our nation's war against terrorism as part of "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan and the Philippines as well as "Operation Iraqi Freedom." To date, 143 children of fallen special operations warriors have graduated from college.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to special operations personnel severely wounded in the global war on terror. Once notified of a special operations soldier, airman, sailor or Marine hospitalized with a severe injury, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation immediately sends funds to the service member (or his/her designated recipient) so the family and loved ones can immediately travel to be bedside.
To date, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation has provided over $700,000 to wounded special operations personnel.