Community

How important is community? Friends? Family?

I consulted Wikipedia. “The term community has two distinct commutative meanings: 1) Community can refer to a usually small, social unit of any size that shares common values. The term can also refer to the national community or international community, and 2) in biology, a community is a group of interacting living organisms sharing a populated environment.”

Jenna and Beth at United Athletics taught me something incredible the other week. First off, let me say, that United Athletics is an incredible organization. They “pair local athletes and individuals who require physical assistance to participate in a variety of events – swimming, biking, running, and triathlon races.” It is a beautiful thing, not only to watch, but even more so, to experience!

I grew up an only child until I turned 8. I didn’t have close relationships with extended family and wasn’t the most social child in school. I had a few friends, but not many. I played with a few neighbor kids and preferred that, but learned how to enjoy playing by myself as well. As I grew older, I picked up along the way a habit of not valuing the presence of other people. I just didn’t feel like I “needed” them. I know, you’re thinking, “Wow. That’s terrible!” Yes, I know. (God and self-analysis are both wonderful things to help cure silly backwards ideas and things like that.)

It was not until last Sunday that I realized the value of people supporting one another. Jenna has THE biggest fan club I have experienced. It was overwhelming and beautiful! My boyfriend and I (more so he than I) took her through an Olympic distance triathlon, tugging her along in a raft for the swim, a trailer/carriage for the bike course, and a stroller for the run, culminating in a triumphant walk across the finish line with her mother with us. Along the course, so many athletes that we crossed paths with were cheering her on, cheering us on, but in reality, it was not about us, it was about Jenna and community.

Triathlons can be a lonely, individual sport. Now, I don’t have years upon years of experience to tell you about my perspective, but I have my experience thus far, and I have learned, that people supporting one another and training together and living life together, for me, is more rewarding than seeing a time improvement. Don’t get me wrong! – I am way too ambitious to say that I don’t care about the clock. But I have learned – there are more important things than my time at the end of the day. What lives have we impacted? Made better? Did we do something careless because we were selfishly concerned about our own goals? I believe we all as human beings have a responsibility to show love to one another and be a positive influence in their lives.

Today, I have a greater appreciation for my family, friends, coworkers, and fellow athletes. Thank you, Beth and Jenna! ♥

The mission of United Athletics is to pair local athletes and individuals who require physical assistance to participate in a variety of events – swimming, biking, running, and triathlon races. Participation in sporting events promotes both social inclusion and fellowship in a healthy athletic environment. Additionally, United Athletics recognizes the financial hardships that these families face due to extensive medical bills. United Athletics will establish a medical fund where these special athletes and their families may apply for assistance with these medical bills.

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