July 12, 2016
BENEFITING: Free To Run Inc.
EVENT DATE: Jul 10, 2016
Ericka Kriedel wrote -
For all the girls out there who aren't given the chance to participate in sports, I'm tackling my first triathlon in support of FREE TO RUN.
When I was in 8th grade, I competed in a cross-country race. I remember being cheered for by my brother’s friends on the high school XC team. When the high school coach learned I was from his town, he hurried over to my mom; excited to recruit me for the following fall. Unfortunately, my mom told the coach, I was a swimmer, and I would be joining the high school swim team instead. The next week in gym class, my teacher handed me an envelope curried over from the high school. It was a flyer for a youth triathlon. And while I didn’t signed up for the tri, I was intrigued. I was also lucky. I didn’t realize it at the time, but how lucky was I to live in a community where not only were there track meets and athletic competitions for me to sign up for, I was actually encouraged to participate.
I met Zahra through Free to Run. When Zahra was young, she also competed in a running race, but unlike my experience, she was NOT encouraged to participate. Growing up in Afghanistan, she was told girls should not run or play sports. Despite all the norms telling her not to compete, she entered a local race because the prize for the top 10 finishers was a bicycle. Zahra wanted that bicycle so bad, she started training- half a kilometer a day! And even though she ran barefoot and in jeans, she came in 6th and was award a glorious orange bicycle. She was so proud she won that bike, she still is... even though she has never gotten to ride it! That's right. Regardless of her accomplishment, she was forbidden from using the bicycle, simply because she was a girl.
Fifteen years after I was encouraged to sign up, I’m finally competing in my first triathlon. And in doing so, I am using it as a fundraiser and awareness campaign for an amazing NGO called Free to Run. Free to Run helps girls in conflict zones, like Afghanistan, use the power of sports and fitness to inspire confidence, teach discipline, and provide girls with the opportunity to learn, grow, and have fun. This July, as I attempt to Swim, Bike, and Run a half-ironman, our girls in Afghanistan will be participating in a sports week. Your donation to my fundraiser will help provide the girls with sports equipment, apparel, and a chance to be free (to run).
THANKS! Check out www.freetorun.org for more information.