Work In Sports Gives Back At Special Olympics Arizona Tri2Unify Event

By Brian Clapp | November 12, 2013
Work in Sports Special Olympics Arizona
23 members of the Work in Sports family raised more money than any other fundraising organization at the 6th annual Tri2Unify in support of Special Olympics Arizona
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” - Jackie Robinson

There are moments we experience in life that stick in our minds, maintaining a permanent place no matter how far time passes them by.

We don’t choose these moments, they choose us.

This past weekend at the 6th annual Tri2Unify, sponsored by Special Olympics Arizona, a group of 23 members of the Work in Sports family created memories that won’t soon be forgotten, either in their own minds or in the minds of the Olympians.

“This is my third year participating in this event,” says John Mellor, President & CEO of Work in Sports. “This time around, I really wanted to enter a Work in Sports team and everyone jumped on board with great enthusiasm.

“It was amazing to see staff, friends and family all together competing for a common cause.”

Participants had two options, an individual sprint triathlon - 300 yard swim, 12.5 mile bike ride and 3.1 mile run - or a unified triathlon, which is a relay with one of the Special Olympians.

work in sports special olympics triathlon
VP of Marketing Robert Oakley and his wife Michelle with their unified triathlon teammate Kaitlin
It was the unified triathlon that made the deepest impression on so many of the team.

“Special Olympians are some of the neatest people you will ever meet. They are very competitive and incredibly passionate,” recalls Robert Oakley, VP of Marketing for Work in Sports.

“Our teammate was Kaitlin. We got to spend some time with her before, during and after the race. She did the swim, and then met up with my wife and I at the end of the run and we crossed the finish line together as a team. It was awesome!”

Many of the Work in Sports staffers involved their children in the charitable event and were amazed at the positive impact it had on them.

“As a father, my first job in life is to make sure my boys are a better man than I am. Exposing them to events like this will make an impact on their lives and turn them into better people for their communities,” says Chris Culp, Work in Sports Development Partner, whose four boys all participated.

“I'm so proud and excited to see them be part of a great cause. It's given them a sense of accomplishment and understanding of how giving back to the community can make a difference."

work in sports triathlon
National account manager Randy Just was one of the highest fundraisers for Team Work in Sports and competed in the sprint triathlon
Special Olympics of Arizona received over $60,000 in donations for the event, $7,000 of which came from the efforts of Work in Sports, the highest amount of any fundraising organization. And while that is a source of great pride around the office, it was less about being first and more about helping a great cause.

“It was great to see all the athletes touching the hearts of everyone around them,” says Jason Backs, Executive VP & COO of Work in Sports. “High fives, cheering, smiles and of course lots of hugs – it is inspiring being alongside of these remarkable athletes and people.

“The sense of accomplishment they exude when they cross the finish line and receive their gold medal is simply awesome.”

This is sports in its purest form. No scandals, just smiles. No cheating, just lots of cheering.

"I have never experienced anything like this before," says Randy Just, national account manager for "Seeing all the smiling faces on the Olympians, everyone cheering and supporting one another,  I can't stop thinking about how remarkable an event this was for everyone involved."

“It feels so good to see how excited the Special Olympians are when competing,” adds Mellor. “The joy at the event is so authentic and pure, it puts so much into perspective. You can’t possibly walk away from an event like this without feeling like a different person.”

One member of the staff, software engineer Jeremy Spray, made the trip down from Portland, Oregon to participate in the unified triathlon with his 6-year old daughter.

“For me it’s important to lead a healthy active life, to be grateful for my ability to do so, and to express my gratitude by giving back and paying forward whenever possible,” says Spray.

“My daughter told me she felt a little embarrassed to have people cheering for her – too cute!  But she clearly felt the joy and pride that all the athletes felt, and so I think she came away with a greater awareness of what makes us all human no matter our differences.”

Impacting the lives of others and forging memories that last a lifetime, it’s a day of great pride at Work in Sports.

If you would like to donate to Special Olympics Arizona follow this link - to find a local branch of the Special Olympics in your area here is a directory of the over 170 countries that Special Olympics has active programs.

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