I don't do it very often.
In case you don't want to read this whole post, yet you trust me implicitly and are eager to help, this is the donate link:
The last time I suggested a donation (but didn't outright ask) was almost a year ago, for the Ironheart Racing Foundation.
Ironheart was producing a documentary at IMAZ 2012, and I inadvertently sat next to the wife of one of the stars. She was friendly but didn't start telling me about the project until, as a total stranger, I peppered her with a billion questions... as I'm wont to do.
She introduced me to the stories of each of the documentary participants in turn, and I teared up as they crossed the finish-line.
Then I outright cried when the wife of a man who had died in production came across the line in his place, holding a photo of him high above her head.
"Touching" doesn't touch that.
At Yuba, the reason I came in 8th of the 8 women in my age-group was that I was passed up in the last minute of my race, quite literally. She beat me by 51 seconds.
No one had been behind me for a long stretch then suddenly she appeared.
I know her name because it was scrawled all over the course in chalk:
Go, Mandy! You can do it!
She turned on the burners right before I careered into the chute. I congratulated her as she jogged by.
Then I noticed her Ironheart racing shirt.
"Wait!! Are you Ironheart?"
"Yeah!" She slowed down so I could catch up, running alongside me as she explained. "I had open-heart surgery 5 months ago."
I almost started crying right then and there.
Mandy Seeley. So, so cool.
Here's the second foundation that I'm heralding, brazenly asking you to donate to a cause.
At IMAZ 2012, I volunteered next to a man named Mike Arabia.
We handed out water to parched and weary runners during the marathon. I was dressed as Batgirl, which is neither here nor there, but the racers liked it.
Though I was planning to sign up for IMAZ 2013, Mike had already decided to race in the inaugural 2013 Lake Tahoe Ironman and use it as a chance to raise money for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
This is Mike.
Like me, this will be his first full Ironman.
Unlike me, he has less time before his race.
(I realized today I have exactly and only 2 months to finish training.)
Mike's race is this weekend.
He's trying to wrap up fundraising in the next 5 days. His total goal is $3500. That, and crossing the line and hearing those four famous words, "You! Are! An! Ironman!"
You can donate here: CAF Donation
I had actually thought about using my own racing journey to fundraise for a cause about which I'm passionate, but I've decided to take a different approach and do an unconventional matching program.
(Details to be revealed, eyebrow waggle.)
Since I'm NOT trying to raise money, I really want to help Mike raise his. I didn't actually ask his permission. He doesn't know (yet... hope you don't mind, Mike) that I'm putting this out there.
Now for the inspiration.
Alongside the Ironheart racers at IMAZ was a woman who did the entire race on a prosthetic leg.
Not actually her: Google image.
She was making good time initially, but then came across the line late, I think in the final hour.
(That's 17 hours for those of you who are new to the sport.)
I heard the reason was that she fell, her prosthesis detached, and she scraped up her leg at the stub, forcing her to reattach the prosthesis over the wound in order to continue.
But she finished.
Or, if you've never heard of the Internet before, here is an Ironman story that will make you cry. Every. Time.
Watch it again.
The Challenged Athlete Foundation helps disabled people pursue an active lifestyle, including sports and competition. Their flagship program steps in where rehabilitation and health insurance end providing funding grants for equipment such as sports wheelchairs, handcycles, mono skis and sports prosthetics.
It's a registered 501(c)(3), so all donations are tax deductible.
$1 or $1000.
And while I have no idea if the Ironman finishers above have ever been helped by CAF, here is a profile of someone who has and continues to give back via CAF mentoring programs:
I am inspired by people who live life to the fullest despite their challenges.
By giving, you could be helping someone who will, in turn, help inspire you back.
If you have the means to contribute, please do. Once again, here is where you can give: Mike's Donation Page for CAF.
Whether it's fundraising or racing, every step toward the finish line counts. Even (especially) the smallest ones.