Sunday, May 1, 2016


Thanks to @inthearena_team for this cool @llbean beanie, much appreciated! #InTheArena #LLBean #HowWeBean

A photo posted by Brayan Flores (@super_sprinter) on

Before I headed to Poland for my serious attempt at the marathon, there was one thing that had to be done. As an In The Arena athlete I get to surprise our ITAers with what some would call presents. I would like to call them, L.L. Bean well earned rewards to some of our long lasting and new ITA members. So there I was on my way to the after school tutoring office with the bag most of the kids already recognized. The ITA/L.L Bean tote goody bag.
It was Friday and we do not open the office on Fridays, so as I arrived to the apartment complex I looked around and there was Miguel walking to his apartment. "Miguel, do me a favor. Could you tell your sisters to come over to the office for a few minutes?" Then I see Catie, Brayan, Jessica H and I asked the same favor. Quick meeting in the office with Zoila? Something serious must be up.
Lately, things at the office have been slow, kids have not been showing up. Main reason, most of them have been staying at the afterschool program at their schools. So, that is fine with us as our main priority is that the kids do their homework. Either way, my sister Norma or I make sure the office is open just in case someone shows up. Then there they were, there I was.. "Well, I called you in to let you know that, WE , In The Arena and L.L Bean is very proud of all of you. As a reward for your hard work at school and participation in the ITA programs through the years we have something for you" Then I started calling their names. They were surprised. Some lughs of relief as a few of them tought I was going to get on them for not coming to the office lately. Some even apologized and gave explanations.
Catie's reaction as she finished putting on her L.L bean sports hoodie on was priceless. "Look, I own a hodie just like Zoila's hodies" Some of them were not around, so I paid a personal visit later on at their homes and the amount of gratitude shown from this kids was out of this world. From endless thank yous, to hugs, to kisses, to invitations to stay, eat and play. Their reactions made me proud and showed me we are doing a great job at what we do.
Carlos and his 3 sibbligs could not believe how soft their new sweater Fleece pullovers were. Once in Europe in a quick visit to Mijas, Spain I had the opportunity to mentor and spend some time with three wonderful kids: Noa, Sara and Oliver. After sharing a few hours with them, I could not help but leave them with some ITA and L.L Bean rewards for their accomplishments in and out the athletic arenas and as a welcoming to the In The Arena Team. Im positive they will represent us well in Spain.
In general, I love my work with ITA, I love it all. But when you get to reward your kids with some of your most favorite L.L Bean gear and even your own racing singlet is amazing. I know they appreciate and will treasure the moment and the detail for the rest of their lives. In these times, its important our kids know how much we appreciate them for their involvement with ITA throughout the years. Many of the kids that got an L.L Bean Reward have been with ITA since the organizaton started. These kids represent who we are and what we as an organization strive for, character and community. Like I told them in our private meeting that Friday, ITA believes in me, L.L Bean believes in In The Arena and I do believe in each and everyone of them.
Thank You L.L Bean for your support to ITA, thank you for helping us reward our kids for their hard efforts and long lasting involvment with ITA.
Thank you for giving back! #HowWeBean #TheWayLifeShouldBe #ComoLaVidaDeberiaSer

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