12 Hours of Road America was one of largest (if not the largest) in-person endurance racing event in the state this year with 400 participants and (drumroll, please) $115,000 raised for the myTEAM TRIUMPH Wisconsin organization. Those fundraising dollars will directly benefit the 500+ athletes with disabilities served here in the state. From participants to volunteers and donors to corporate sponsors, the 2020 event was a culmination of hard work by many hands and hearts.
At the beginning of April, none of us could have predicted what 12 Hours of Road America would end up looking like. The only certainty we had was the unwavering feeling that "if" there was any possibility that this event could happen, we would do everything in our power to make it a reality.
Selfishly...we needed this event. We needed it to help keep us in a positive mindset during a trying time. We longed to see smiles and hear the sounds of cheers and cowbells ringing. Most importantly, we missed feeling the sense of belonging and purpose that umbrellas all of us on event day...and we knew that the myTEAM TRIUMPH WI athletes with disabilities needed that feeling much more than any of us did.
With a direct link to depression, poor sleep quality, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity, individuals with disabilities have an increased likelihood of facing chronic social isolation. For perspective, this type of isolation has the same physical effects on the body as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. At myTEAM TRIUMPH WI, we have witnessed how powerful the connections made on event day can be for our athletes with disabilities in fighting this chronic isolation and have made it our mission to eliminate it; using endurance athletics to bring people together.
With the push to quarantine and social distance along with the mass event cancelations throughout the state, many of the myTEAM TRIUMPH WI athletes have been feeling stuck, alone and more depressed. While we have tried to stay connected with the use of technology, there was an underlying longing for an event day to share, connect and smile alongside peers and friends. We couldn't let them down and 12 Hours of Road America was our opportunity to deliver.
We hope that all of you in attendance showed up excited, felt challenged along the way and left feeling (at least a little bit) more optimistic about tomorrow. You guys and gals rocked out there! Thank you for making this event a special one; believing in it enough to register, for working hard to fundraise for the myTEAM TRIUMPH WI organization, for cooperating with safety measures and for proving that a ringing cowbell is still one of the best sounds ever.
For this brief 12-hour moment in time, our team was able to feel a chaotic normalcy that has given us a renewed energy to carry forward with this mission. We are back to the drawing board, challenging ourselves to find and create innovative ways to continue to fulfill the myTEAM TRIUMPH WI mission because the mission is not about start and finish lines. The mission is to connect. The mission is about people.
Please help us improve the 2021 event by filling out our 5-10 min. survey.
Stay safe and keep healthy.
Christian, Dave and Karla