Triathlon is a sport which can offer so much to many people. It has not only given me a whole new circle of friends and lost me a few toenails, but it has pushed me to achieve things I never thought possible. Until recently, I had no idea triathlon would take me down the path of giving back to the community.
A recent trip to Kona to support my friends racing in the Ironman World Championships was my first introduction to the inspirational team at MORE Than Sport. I met some of the MORE Than Sport ambassadors whilst helping them put together kid’s bikes, which were then donated to the local Kona community. I was immediately drawn to their story and it left me wondering; how can I do more to give back?
It is such a simple but powerful idea, use the sport that I love and its huge network of athletes to assist the local communities that support us and host our races. I knew this was going to leave a far greater impact than simply just raising much needed funds; it is a tangible difference that we could all support. Although, it was just building a bike the experience was cemented in to my memory bank from my time in Kona and I can only imagine the smiles on the kids’ faces when they saw the bikes.
In search of a more meaningful Ironman
After watching my friend’s race I was inspired to sign up for my first Ironman – albeit after a few beers and a bet with some mates at the Kona Brewery!
In my lead up to Ironman Port Macquarie I considered fundraising for a charity so that on race day when things got tough I could dig deep and remember that people had donated for me to finish this event. I reflected on my time in Kona and was immediately inspired to get back in touch with MORE Than Sport. I just knew I had to do something similar in Australia!
After a few false starts in Port Macquarie, I decided to focus my attention to Ironman Cairns. Although my own personal IM debut had been and gone by the time the event was held it still holds meaning for my journey as I was using the sport I am so passionate about to give back to a local community.
Cooking for a Cause
We established a partnership with REAP Cairns to support their work diverting surplus food from landfill to the underprivileged local community. In under two years, REAP Cairns has prevented over 50 tons of quality surplus food from being wasted – the equivalent of 150,000 meals – that were instead delivered to 18 local charities and schools who provide food relief for the vulnerable in our community.
Our event was held at St Andrews Catholic College who kindly let us use their commercial kitchen for the cook up. We had 20 athletes and some of their support crew in the kitchen peeling avocados, dicing vegetables, crushing garlic and chopping herbs to cook up some nutritious meals for those in need. Most of the athletes had never thought of giving back to the community in which they were going to be racing, so I was thrilled to be able to enable them with that opportunity. It also gave athletes a chance to meet fellow competitors and take a little bit of pressure off prior to race day. As an athlete I know how stressful race week can be so it was humbling to see them each give up their time so close to the event. A total of 160 meals were prepared on the day from quality excess food and delivered to Youthlink – an organization that provides emergency food relief and support to vulnerable youth in Cairns and Trinity Bay High School who provide food relief to students experiencing food insecurity.
From the athletes:
“It was our first time in Cairns and the whole week we were there, we felt nothing but support from volunteers, fellow athletes and all the locals. We felt such a huge sense of community and we fed off that energy the entire week leading to the race. It felt only right to give back to the community that allowed us to live, train and race in their city”
“Cooking for a Cause was a great initiative in the lead up to my race in Cairns. I often travel to different destinations to race, and during race week the triathlon community certainly takes over town. The opportunity to give something back to the local community, and contribute in this way, made my race in Cairns all the more rewarding – and hopefully meant those less fortunate than me were able to devour a healthy and nutritious meal.”
Reflecting on the experience, It was great for me to meet a fantastic bunch of athletes who were so supportive of the initiative and with their assistance, I can’t wait to start planning our next event!
A huge thank you again to REAP Cairns, St Andrews Catholic College, Chef Sam, the VCE hospitality students and of course – all the athletes and their support crew who cooked up a storm for those in need – I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did!
I am excited to keep working with MORE Than Sport and see what more we can do down here in Australia!