Part One --The Background (or the Story behind the Story)
When Mr. Geek had his midlife crisis, he did not find a blond or try to purchase a shiny red sport's car, (thankfully)-- he instead began to run triathlons. (What did I do? Thanks for asking. I joined a Rock Band. But that is a story for another day.)
Another part of his midlife crisis was to question, "what is my purpose here on earth?" and "What is it that God expects me to accomplish in my lifetime?" (hey I never said we were original, just geeky) Mr.Geek and I have often discussed how best to live our lives in a way that will leave the world in a better way than how we found it. Mr. Geek even talked at one time with entering the ministry. (I do believe the possibility of taking Greek might have seemed a bit off putting.) We finally decided that if we tried, we could help people as engineers. (See here all the ways engineers have made the world a better place.) As I stated to Mr. Geek, people are going to be even more receptive to the Good News, if they have running clean water and proper sewage treatment. Oh yes they will and you may quote me.
And in keeping with the overall plan to visit new countries and bring with us running water and sewage treatment (I know we are geeks, haven't I said that already), I have been taking notes and generally being obnoxious asking question after question over at Kash 's (rhymes with mosh) website. Kash has moved to Mali and has been documenting everything from what to pack, to her first meals and grocery shopping and has given us a fabulous house tour. Thanks Kash!
However the reality is right now we are committed to three boys that need routine and a careful diet and a careful watch on their education progress. So what can we do right now and right here.
Another aside (Please bear with me I have trouble telling stories chronologically)-- Mr. Geek has been an active member in DASA for several years as board member and president. For those of you in the St. Louis area DASA is an organization for youth with physical disabilities. The founder is named Kelli, she is a Physical Therapist with oddles of energy. She discovered that in our area there was the Special Olympics for children with mental and physical disabilities but no outlets for children with only physical disabilities. As a problem solver, Kelli jumped in and started getting these kids into everything. She started with track and field and now includes rock climbing, kayaking, swimming, ice hockey and so much more. She is an incredible source of energy and inspiration.
So I had a thought that seems obvious now but at the time seemed genuinely inspired. One of the Triathlons that Mr. Geek races in has a disabled division . DASA athletes participate in this race and each athlete has a "shadow who runs along in case the athletes need help. "Maybe," I commented to Mr. Geek, "they could use another shadow." And as they say, to make a long story longer, began the story that I promise to to tell in Part 2.
Mr Geek was linked with a young athlete (I will call her A for Athlete) that was vision impaired. The first race was done as a team. His Athlete swam and ran and another athlete did the biking portion. We considered trying to get A to use our Trail-a-Bike but although she was not a very tall girl she was too tall for that. So I said maybe we could talk a bike rental place into loaning DASA a tandem bike for the race and then she could do the entire race. DASA was even better than that and found the funding to purchase a used tandem bike to train and race on. (This is a great organization if you are looking for a place to support.)
Remember A was 12 and had never ridden a bike without training wheels . So it took an incredible amount of courage for her to climb on that bike with Mr. Geek (Whom I had given a stern talking to before hand about not going too fast). Last year they completed the entire race and came in first.