Video from when I volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club in 2010
A few months ago, I was invited to be the keynote speaker of this years boys and girls club annual youth of the year breakfast ceremony.
I'm going to be honest with you. When I speak in public, I normally speak from my heart. I might have an outline with me or just a brief idea of what is it that I want to talk about.
Speaking in public and sharing my personal life to others has become in many ways a source of therapy and reflection. For more than a month I have been reflecting on the stories I could share and to my surprise the things I end up sharing on that special day are not even close to what I have envisioned.
Today, I was able to share about childhood memories and the relationship I had with my father. It's amazing how a bit of love and attention on weekend bases can set you up for life. How having faith and believing can open doors of opportunities and bring the right people into our life. Its incredible how in many ways all comes together and without acknowledging it we all are part of a great circle of support. We are In The Arena.
Reaching out and making a difference in someone's life..
Me speaking at the Boys and Girls Club
"Nothing in the world makes me more proud, excited, or nervous than opportunities like this. It is a an honor and a huge privilege to be standing in front of all of you this morning to celebrate our youth. Im a huge advocate, mentor and a believer. I do believe our youth deserves our love, respect and most importantly our support.
If there is something I am very thankful for is:
Having the opportunity to get to know my father as the loving parent every child dreams of. When my parents divorced, weekends were my favorite; I was going to spend time with dad. One of the many lessons I learned from him was to follow the bible.
One of our activities was for me to write down “Psalms 23” and he would always tell me to Trust in God.
Then, all of the sudden, one weekend my dad was gone. I was only 6 and I clearly remember him inside of his cascade as one of my older brothers lifted me up to see him asleep. Yes! to me he was in a deep sleep.
The image I had of him, never changed and will never change. To me he was the most caring person in earth.
Those weekends are the most wonderful memories of my childhood:
He loved his little girl. He cooked for her. He took care of her during her sleep. He gave me what every kids desires: Love and attention.
In spite of adversity, my mother was never alone. Neighbors, would always give her a hand. There was always a good samaritan to give her a hand. One of my oldest sisters played the role of a mother and took care of me and my younger siblings while my mother was out working.
When I was 13 I felt lost, with no direction and with many questions in my mind. I wanted so bad to prove my family I could do something great, but I had no idea how that was going to happen.
My mom was so busy trying to provide for us that I had this crazy Idea she did not really care. The only time she show her love to us was when it was time to ground us. Now, I truly appreciate and understand it all. I love, respect and understand my mother. She is the strongest women I've ever met.
At age 16 I moved to the USA and that is when I found that ANGEL, mentor, the support I needed to figure out the direction of my life.
In 1996, during a track meet a men approached me. Introduce himself as a junior college coach and gave me a used pair of spikes. My first ever racing shoes. I was elated; I was so surprised someone that A stranger who did not know much about me had given me a pair of fast shoes. I was inspired. I had a reason and someone to run fast for.
In no time, Coach Fier became my mentor, took me to every race possible, and educated me on the sport. He introduced Adams State and the possibility of me earning a college scholarship.
Make story short: I earned an athletic scholarship to Adams State. In my years at Adams I traveled around the state and the country for competition, earned many national titles.
Then the biggest obstacle of all came after graduation when I was going to turn professional. Running requires discipline, commitment and rest. Full time jobs can be your biggest setback. At that point, I had no sponsorship or a job.
Then, In the arena a non profit organization comes into the picture. Founder Amory Rowe invited me to join the organization. The way it worked was an athlete would receive an stipend according to the hours of community service an athlete would commit per year. A win win situation as independent donors would make a financial contribution to the organization to help aspiring Olympians to chase their dreams. Aspire Olympians would spend a couple of hours a day implementing a program on their under served communities with the target population being children.
Since then, I've gone from teaching English, to taking kids on a bike ride, cheering at the mile fun run, jumping rope for heart, running with kids, tutoring, etc..
Until this day, I have no idea who the donors are, but I'm forever thankful because thanks to their generosity I'm standing here today, sharing a successful story. These people have made a huge impact in my life.
So far I've been able to travel around the world, represented the USA in 3 world championship in Japan, Berlin and Korea. I was 4 at the Olympic trials in 2008 missing the Olympic Team by 1 spot. But what I am most proud about is my In The Arena community service. In the past 7 years, I’ve reached over 20 thousand kids and thousands of parents, teachers, and community members.
I believe that what the boys and girls club is doing for our kids is not only priceless, but well needed in our community. Our kids need a home away from home. A place where they can sit down, do homework, learn about other programs, interact with other kids and most importantly have a network of support.
Dave Fier, Adams State, In the Arena changed my life. I know the boys and girls club has changed the direction of many lives. I have volunteered at the club before and let me tell you, I would do it again and again. That summer, I witnessed how excited some kids would get about the art project, reading time, or computer lab. Believe it or not, many of them have no access to a key board at home yet.
The questions they would asked me while in the game room, would be the same questions once I asked to myself. Spending a couple of hours a day with them made a difference.
I have dreams and aspirations. Many of them have come true, thanks to mentors and people that believe in me. I know all the kids at the boys and girls have dreams and aspirations. It is my wish that when they grow up, they look back and say, I do remember my times at the boys and girls club. I remember that counselor who cared and believed in me.
My experience volunteering at the boys and girls inspired me to dedicate even more time to our youth. I hope Kia (Youth of the Year) inspires you to be part of something great.
I truly believe our kids are our future and we are big part of them. Let’s allow our youth to dream and aspire to big things in life.
Whatever my dad is, I know he is extremely grateful and thankful I found the right people to guide me and support me to achieve my dreams.
To all of the kids here this morning know that you will never be alone, that God will always put someone in your path to help you achieve your goals. Be yourself, Dream Big, and no matter what obstacles you may embrace, Believe in those dreams and go after them! Never be afraid to ask for or receive help..
Once again, Congrats to Kia for the Youth of the year honors and thank you Boys and Girls Club for letting me be part of a great event"