Each day I come to work at USA Canoe/Kayak, I am grateful for the people that make this organization grow and improve on a daily basis. The work is demanding, requires unconventional hours and tasks that go far beyond what is listed in your job description.
In the process of working with these outstanding people, you understand the purpose and ideals that drive them, both inside and outside of USA Canoe/Kayak. And the more I learn about their pursuits out of the office, the more impressed I am. For example, Michele, with whom I share an of office with in Oklahoma City is the reigning Surfski World Champion and Mac, our National Sprint Development Director, is training for a full-distance Ironman triathlon.
Many of our Members know Gerald Babao as a fixture at USA Canoe/Kayak who wears many hats, can solve a variety of problems and as a humble advocate who holds our team together. Outside of work, he's a terrific father, husband, friend, athlete, and sports junkie. As some of you may know, he's also a cancer survivor. Read more about Geralds story --> HERE
What impresses me about Gerald is the opportunity he has created to serve others born of out of a life-threatening challenge - the opportunity to raise awareness; the opportunity to rally for a cause; the opportunity to serve others.
Last year, he launched a 5k running event in Charlotte that raises money for the Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma Research Foundation. He is now preparing to take the event to a higher level in year two:
But Gerald's efforts don't end there. This weekend, Gerald attempts to join the 1/2 of 1% of the U.S. population to run a marathon as he competes for the "Dove Men+Care" Team at the New York City Marathon. Two weeks later, he will be on the startline for the Richmond Marathon. His first and second marathons within two weeks of each other fueled by purpose and passion for a critical cause.
In the four years I've worked with Gerald, it's hard not to feel humbled, inspired and grateful. My respect and admiration for Gerald's pursuits continues to grow and I couldn't be more excited to personally support his efforts.
If you'd like to support Gerald's effort, please do so right here --> Donate
Having spent considerable time over the past few weeks on USA Canoe/Kayak's 2014 High Perforance Plan, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the details of our National Programs. During this time, our coaches and staff engage in thoughtful and challenging discussions about the quality of and return-on-investment on all of our programs.
One program in which I'm proud of the progress we're making is our Sprint Club Recognition Program. Our National Sprint Development Director, Mac Hickox, developed this tiered system of benchmarks geared to BOTH high performance and Club sustainability.
Whether you're a forming a new Club from scratch, expanding an existing Club towards high level competition or moving an operational high performing Club towards greater financial independence, our Club Recognition Program maps out that progression in alignment with the USA Canoe/Kayak's mission and goals.
With that, we are pleased to announce our first Platinum Gold Level Sprint Clubs:
Gig Harbor Canoe and Kayak Race Team
San Diego Canoe/Kayak Racing Team
Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club
These three Clubs met the highest standards in the areas of Club Management, Program Offerings, Community Outreach and SafeSport Practices.
Providing Clubs with more tools and resources to build stronger organizations to better support their athletes and coaches will ultimately raise stanadards across all the key touchpoints of the sport and move of us closer to our mission and goals.
Congratulations to all three of these Clubs.