Organized by: Michelle Parada
Halfway there!!! (correction--sorry for duplicate!)
April 25, 2016
EVENT DATE Apr 29, 2016
Have you ever met those people that just leave you in awe because of all they have accomplished in their life? After meeting them, you are inspired to do something greater with your own life because they have proven it is possible? Have you ever pondered about what experiences in their past have inspired them to such greatness? I am hoping that this fundraiser will provide one of those experiences for my student, Río (name changed for privacy), as he has proven that he will be one of those people inspiring others in the future with his success, as he has already done so as a teenager.
Río is one of those kids that exudes humility, thoughtfulness, maturity, and determination in his everyday actions. He strives for success in the classroom and in the pool, where he is a top swimmer, and does not settle for average. As his swimming coach said, he wants to do all that he can to be the best coach possible because Río inspires him to do so. In a school filled to the brim with top-performing students, Río stands out because of his character. Despite the trying ordeals that Río has suffered this past school year, he has continued to display a an unparalleled fortitude.
Río's mother was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer in mid-November and died about 6 weeks later. His father's mother also passed during this time. Río then was struck with a health issue that kept him from training and swimming for a little while. As he started to train to get back to swimming again, Río came to school on crutches after damaging his foot while running, requiring surgery. Even though he had already been through so much, Río forged on to get back in the pool within weeks, saying, "I'm not going to let this boot stop me!"
My heart kept urging me to find something that could keep him inspired to be on the road to success. As I learned more about his passion for swimming, I decided to write to a few businesses and USA Swimming to see if someone could sponsor tickets for Río and his family to attend the USA Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha at the end of June. I had help from Río's teachers and coaches who wrote pieces about their witness to his leadership and sincerity. These included him insisting on completing a class project that he could have been excused from; warming up the team without being asked to do so while the coach was consulting with someone; reaching out to his teacher the first week of school without even knowing her because she was missing days due to the death of her father; sharing with his class about his service project to establish a charity in his mom's honor; how much Río has inspired each of his teachers with his strength despite the suffering he is experiencing.
Thankfully, a few places donated some swimming gear to Río and one place is giving him tickets to the US Swimming Open in Minneapolis this summer, with a hotel donating the room for their entire stay there! Although we could not find a group to sponsor tickets for Río for the Trials, his swimming coach came up with the idea to have a Swim-a-Thon at school at the end of April for the team, but the money that Río raises will be used for him to buy tickets to the Trials. He was filled with so much joy when his swimming coach and I shared all the news. Río is really excited to swim his best during the Swim-a-Thon and said he is more motivated than ever to make it to the Olympics one day and win a gold medal.
Río does not know that I am requesting donations for him as he simultaneously seeks out his own donations. The first $165 I raise will be used to purchase extra tickets to the US Open so that his grandmother and two younger siblings can also be in attendance (I misunderstood the number of tickets that were being donated by the business). Any money raised beyond that will have 75% used towards sending Río to see the Trials in person and 25% will be donated to the charity Río established in his mother's honor that supports research and education in pancreatic cancer. If you would like your donation proportioned in any other amount, please just let me know.
I can see Río raising more than enough money to buy the expensive tickets for the Trials (only available on 3rd party sites because they are sold out), but there are many other expenses involved with this trip. Even if his father covers the travel expenses, this extra money I'm raising here could not only allow for possibly an additional day of watching the Trials, but also provide an additional reminder to Río of all the people that believe in him.
The sincere compassion by complete strangers that I have witnessed throughout this process has been beyond amazing. I know how much my heart has been touched during this time--I can only imagine how much Río's will be. Please consider supporting a teenager who possesses all that it will take to make his dream of swimming in the Olympics one day into a reality. Imagine Río watching his swimming idols compete and envisioning himself there in the pool one day--it is a powerful experience that is sure to have a great impact.
I apologize for the lack of specific names in this description but I want to be sure to protect the privacy of all involved. It is not every day that you get to support someone on their journey to live out their dream. I appreciate you reading this story and I hope that you are inspired to help Río. I know one day you will be cheering for him swimming in the Olympics!