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Posts Tagged ‘party’

-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, D.C.

Before we get started with today’s volunteer experience, I want to remind you that today is the United Nation’s International Volunteer Day. I’m teaming up with Meridian International, Washington Parks and People and DC Green Corps to plant 61 trees in Oxon Run Park located in Southeast D.C. If you don’t have a volunteer project scheduled for today, make a commitment to volunteer at least once before the end of the year.

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A group crosses the finish line together

Now close your eyes and imagine this. It’s a  chilly October morning and you and your friends are gathered at ski resort getting ready to run a ten-mile course peppered with 25 insane obstacles that I probably wouldn’t want to do by themselves, much less after I’ve been running for hours.

To quote their website, “Tough Mudder is not your average lame-ass mud run or spirit-crushing ‘endurance’ road race. It’s Ironman meets Burning Man.” I’m not sure that’s how I would describe this extreme race designed by an ex British Special Forces commando, but it is not for the week at heart.

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A woman collapses as her body absorbs some 10,000 volts as she tries to navigate the dreaded electrical guantlet.

The sunlight  breaks through the trees while rumors of daunting tasks such as traversing logs floating in freezing pools of water and sprinting through a gauntlet of live electrical wires, some of which are charged with more than 10,000 volts, circulate amongst the participants. I’m just thankful that I am not actually running this race. That’s right, I’m volunteering in this madness.

The event, one of a series of international races that Tough Mudder puts on, is being held at Wintergreen Ski Resort nestled in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains in Central Virginia. I drove down the night before in stayed at the Acorn Inn – a wonderful European style inn run by Kathy and Martin, charming hosts who make you feel like you never want to leave.

I spent my day of service primarily at the finish line – watching exhausted participants triumphantly complete their mission. We handed out fruit and energy bars as well as water and sports drinks to the dazed athletes who wandered around trying to recover. Those who finished also were awarded a t-shirt and a free beer sponsored by Dos Equis.

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Tattoos and mohawks are free to particpants.

In addition to the race, several other Tough Mudder related activities were going on. You could get a mohawk style haircut or a mullet, have the Tough Mudder logo tattooed on your body or donate your mud encased shoes to charity. The haircuts and tattoos are free too!

“It’s all for a good cause,” said one exhausted racer who had driven up from North Carolina the night before, “the money goes to help the Wounded Warrior Project.” Well, that is partly true. Some money, nearly $2 million to date, does benefit the charity – and that’s the reason I agreed to volunteer. But as I handed out bananas to weary runners my mind raced off to calculate how much money these guys are making on all of this craziness. Let’s just say they are doing quite well – and I am totally ok with for profit companies doing well while also doing good. The business is so going so well that next year they will double the number of Tough Mudders.

I captured LOTS of images from the event – some of them show the euphoria of crossing the finish line – others show near defeat as the race begins to take its toll. I also got a few good shots of some brave souls who got tattoosmohawks, and mullets. You can check out all of my photographs from the weekend here.

DSC_0127.jpgIf you think you are Tough Mudder material – check out their website for an event near you! They have races in North America, Europe,Japan and Australia – chances are there is one near you!

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-Blog post by Reed Sandridge of Washington, DC

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David's hometown is near Kenya's Lake Victoria

I woke up this morning with mixed emotions. On one side, I am so excited that David will soon be reunited with his family in Kenya. The series of events that have come together to make this happen is extraordinary. Having said that, I am not very good with “good-byes” and am sad to see him go.

My focus today though is on celebrating this pivotal moment in his life. We will gather tonight to laugh together and look forward to the future. We are far from my goal of raising the $1,000 to help cover the expenses of David’s travel – but perhaps some more online donations will still come in today. If you haven’t donated and feel that you could spare $10 to help someone else out I encourage you to click on the yellow Donate button.

If you live in D.C. please join us tonight between 5:30-8:00pm at One Lounge (1606 20th Street, NW) in DC. It’s right near the North entrance of the Dupont Circle Metro stop. Here’s a link to the invitation – don’t worry about the RSVP – just show up!

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When my good friend Kim recently turned 40 she threw a tremendous celebration.  She is someone who always thinks about others first.  Her birthday was no exception.  When guests arrived they were greeted by a woman who gave them two small rectangular pieces of paper and informed them that they were to write two things that they were going to start doing the next day that would positively impact their life.  Then they were to use those pieces of paper as free drink coupons at the bar.  We then had put a name tag on and on that tag we had to described how we knew Kim and when we first met her.  I wrote down that I was her personal sangria maker (which is sorta true) but actually we met in 2008 while working at a non-profit health organization focused on reducing childhood obesity.  

We were told that there was also a video room where we were encouraged to go and leave a video message for Kim.  Her daughter was in charge of the filming and did a terrific job. 

Kay and her husband Marion (photo: Reed)

 

So there I am at the entrance trying to figure out what I would do that would change my life starting tomorrow.  That is a really difficult question.  Think about it, what would you do starting tomorrow to positively change your life forever.  I had no idea I would have so much responsibility bestowed upon my shoulders when I told Kim that I would be there to celebrate with her.  Most other people had written something down rather quickly and went inside.  I had flashbacks to my algebra final in the 10th grade when other students were finishing their tests and leaving me all alone sweating through the problems.  It was about this time that I thought I overheard the woman who was explaining to us what we were to do with the papers say that she was Kim’s mom.  I asked her again just to make sure that I heard correctly to which she said, “Yes, I’m Kay, Kim’s mother.”  I stopped what I was doing and went straight to her and gave her a giant hug.  She was probably a little startled but it was just my instinct.  She must be a pretty phenomenal woman herself to raise such an amazing woman like Kim. 

I decided to give Kay my $10 for the day!  She said she didn’t know what she would do with it, but she would “pass it on to someone else.”  

Cake being delivered to Kim (photo: Reed)

 

Kay, who lives in California, was in DC for her daughter’s birthday celebration.  She is a supervisor for an organization that investigates welfare fraud.  “It’s rampant, people do all kinds of things” she tells me.  Apparently people go buy groceries with a type of food stamps debit card and then report that it was stolen or something and that it wasn’t them who used the card and then they get reimbursed cash for the amount of the card.
Kim is such a giving person, I thought I would ask Kay about her giving habits.  “I give, but not as much financially as maybe I should, but I do give of my time.”  As I have said many times here, simple gifts of your time and conversation are often much more valuable than monetary gifts.  

I didn’t want to hold up Kay more; after all it was her daughter’s 40th birthday party!  I snapped a quick photo of her and joined the party. 

  

“The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of the child [as you age], which means never losing your enthusiasm.” – Aldous Huxley

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