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August 28th, 2014

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Way back in January of this year, as a way to celebrate my 50th year on this earth, I decided to do a couple of things – to participate in the Race Across America (RAAM), and to participate in Ironman Tahoe.  I committed to these things for both altruistic and selfish reasons. On the one hand, I wanted to support a couple causes near and dear to my heart, and on the other hand, after 10 years of sitting on the sidelines, I needed a reason to get off my lazy butt and re-engage in the competitive side of sport, which I truly miss.

I suppose you can say this year has been my “Ice Bucket Challenge” - only sweatier . . . and longer . . . and hotter . . . with no ice.  (Well – Tahoe may have ice, but I am really hoping for no ice.)

First up was RAAM.  RAAM is a bike race from Oceanside, California to Baltimore, Maryland, and I was both the team manager and a team member (cyclist).  Our mission was to raise awareness and funds for the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (IFHF), and to finish in seven days or less. IFHF is a fund that supports soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries. As a Vietnam era military child, this one was important to me. To make a long story short, we finished in five days and twenty-one hours, won the eight-person team division, raised awareness about IFHF, and raised $653,000 dollars.  Mission accomplished!

Next up (as in right around the corner) is Ironman Lake Tahoe.  I am participating in Ironman Lake Tahoe to raise awareness and funds for Tu Nidito Children and Family Services. Tu Nidito provides comfort, hope and support to children and families whose lives have been impacted by a serious medical condition or death.  My wife Traci and I have been involved with Tu Nidito for the past couple years.  I’m participating in memory of Jose Rincon, Jr. who, while riding bicycles with a friend, was struck and killed by a drunk driver.  Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to meet Jose, but through Tu Nidito, I have gotten to know his family a bit.  Jose’s amazing family is a testament to the positive impact Tu Nidito can have on a families who have suffered a loss.

Jose’s little sister, Juli, had this to say about Tu Nidito, “I was 8-years-old when my brother died.  It was one of the worst and most confusing days of my life.  Being only 8 years old, I didn’t really understand what had happened.  I didn’t know that I wouldn’t get to see my brother again.  I didn’t know that from that day on, my family would change from being a family of 6, to a family of 5.  That year, my family and I received much love and support from family and friends, but it was hard because none of them knew exactly what we had gone through.  They didn’t understand how truly hard it was.  But that all changed when we began going to Tu Nidito.  The first day I went, it was so amazing and eye opening.  I finally felt like I belonged here again.  I felt like I actually fit in and I wasn’t ‘the girl who lost her brother.’  I was surrounded by kids my own age who had just recently gone through this tragic experience.  I wasn’t in this alone anymore.”

I hate asking for money.  But this year I am asking.  I have seen, firsthand, the amazing impact that Tu Nidito has on families suffering from the most unthinkable grief, and I’m honored to help raise money so that they can continue to help children and families deal with their loss.  The entire Rincon family volunteers at Tu Nidito helping other families cope with tragedy and grief, and I’m continually amazed and inspired by their generosity, courage, and strength.

My goal is to raise $20,000 in honor of Jose Jr.  A HUGE thank you to those of you who have already contributed.  If you have not yet contributed and you would like to – PLEASE DONATE HERE.

Now I’m going to head out for a little training so that I get to the IRONMAN Lake Tahoe finish line before the midnight cut-off!

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