My nearly-completed fundraising email sat unopened on my desktop for more than four weeks. I had signed up for the Musselman Half Ironman to honor the two strongest women in my life: my Grandma Bette, who passed away from Leukemia in June of last year, and my mom, Sue, who continues her fight against Breast Cancer. Through my race, I had also decided to fundraise for Lori’s Hands, an awesome non-profit I cared deeply about. So what was keeping me from sending out the email? What if I got a negative response? What if I failed to meet my fundraising goal? Would I be ‘that guy’ nagging his friends to donate? My letter exposed a vulnerability – did I really want to share that with the world?
With my race a mere six weeks away, I was coming up with every reason I could to not hit ‘send’, but a couple frank conversations with friends convinced me. How bad could it be? I would send out a bunch of messages, probably annoy some people, and have a few uncomfortable conversations about something that was very raw for me. In the end, I would feel good about myself, and raise a few dollars for Lori’s Hands, so it would all be worth it.
I got community. The outpouring of support I received blew me away. People ranging from my closest friends to those I had never met showed up in a huge way. They donated. They sent encouraging messages. They produced videos, made signs, and organized raffles. They got up at 6:30AM on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to train with me. 60-mile bike ride? Sure. Cold-calling local businesses to get them to donate? No problem. You name it, they did it. None of what I achieved would have been possible without the support of my community. got vulnerability. The letter I sent out was the real first leg of my triathlon. I was committed to honoring my mom and grandma with it just as much as with the race itself, but this meant letting 200 people in on the most emotional and difficult part of my life. And it meant painting the picture of all there was to honor in a clear way – not just telling people that my mom and grandma were incredible women, but showing them too. was moved by the response I received. People shared about their own experiences with chronic illnesses. They wrote of friends, family members, and loved ones who had suffered, of hardships endured, and overcome. Several times I was driven to tears while at work by people’s stories that so closely resembled my own. The way in which I was able to connect with others through my own sharing brought greater meaning to my fundraiser and race and has allowed me to bring that same vulnerability to other parts of my life. I got inspiration. Backed by my remarkable community, I experienced a new sense of what was possible. Sign up for a crazy race and do it. Set an unreasonable fundraising goal and make it. Put together a last minute raffle and pull it off. On race day, I dedicated different segments of my race to the loved ones of people I cared about. Each mile, I imagined who each of those people were to the people I knew and how those relationships resembled my own relationship with my mom and grandma. With those people in mind, I found the strength to transform my race, overcoming my own psyched-out terror through 70.3 miles of 30mph headwinds, torrential rain, and grueling hills. I was able to really be there for it, and loved every minute. undraising for Lori’s Hands was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life. What did I get? I got that by setting a crazy goal, sharing yourself, and getting your community on board, anything is possible. hinking about sending out that letter and not sure it’ll be worth it? Here’s my advice: Just hit send.
Written by: Luke Warford
July 13th, Luke Warford suited up to complete a Half Ironman at the Musselman Triathlon! Luke has been a friend and supporter of Lori’s Hands since it was just an idea, and over the past 6 weeks he has raised over $8,000 to support our organization (our biggest donation EVER)! He completed the triathlon in honor of his mother and grandmother, both of whom have had cancer, and both of whom exemplify the energetic and generous spirit of Lori’s Hands. Thanks for all of your hard work and support Luke! You are our hero.