Many of you know that I have worked very hard to achieve the level in sport that I am, but you may not realize how I got here. I have not done it alone. It has taken a team of enormous size and support to accomplish the feats that I have conquered. All together we could create a large village and call it CDWA Nation. This village is comprised of many groups that all have their own purpose and place. These groups include; Family/Friends, Sponsors, Management, Guides, Triathlon Clubs, Blind Advocacy groups/Non profits and fans. Without the combined efforts of these groups the village would not exist. It would be comprised on just one tall, lanky, slender, scattered and many times confused human being that would probably find himself getting lost and unable to find his way back to the village.
I know this blog could appear sappy and uneventful but don’t worry I will spice it up with some good humor. I will divide the blog up into groups and give each their praises individually.
Family & Friends:
First and foremost I need to thank my family and friends. To my mom and dad who without any opposition allowed their legally blind son to begin racing the sport of triathlon individually. For driving the bike and run courses so that i could memorize landmarks and potholes. I’m sure that every race during those first years was basically a prayer session for them, just hoping that little Aaron would manage to stick between the mustard and the mayonnaise and find his way back in one piece. I’m sure that 95% of parents with a child in this situation would not let their child do what my parents let me do over their dead body. Mom and dad, thank you for allowing me to attempt and go hurt myself so I could learn how much it hurt to hit my first parked car. Also, I want to thank my brother Ryan for encouraging me to go out for the swim team in high school when I was in a difficult time of my life just searching for something to end my downward spiral. Their are many more things that my family has done but i have an entire village to thank so I will move on.
Next, my girlfriend Brittney, thank you for allowing me to be me. This includes sometimes putting my clothes on inside out, missing multiple spots while shaving and constantly having intimate conversations with another female named Siri. Thank you for understanding my passion and allowing me to spend a great deal of time helping better the lives of others in the blind community.
Thanks also to my friends who have only made me stronger with their attempts to hide my stuff so I can’t find it, writing dirty text messages with the intent that Siri will read it out loud in public and of course tolerating the 100’s of questions that i tend to ask. Thank you also for understanding my goals and helping me with errands and transportation when I am in a pinch because I am unable to drive.
If I didn’t have support from my sponsors, I would never be able to compete in the sport of triathlon. Triathlon is a rich man’s sport and let’s just say I am not a rich man.
PowerBar: Thank you to PowerBar for producing the Mint Cookie Protein Bar and the Peanut Butter Chocolate Wafers. I don’t think I could tolerate the training without nutrition that taste good. Thank you for the endless flow of PowerBucks that allow me to have enough nutrition if the world does come to an end soon.
RehabCare: Thank you for equipping me with the tools I need as a physical therapist but also supporting my goals and dreams of competing in the Paralympics. I don’t know if I could work for a better company.
Cequent/Rola: Thank you for providing me with bike racks and towing products to haul the Pain Train from place to place. You never realize how difficult it is to transport a tandem until you have one. You guys make it so much easier.
Champion Systems: Thank you for creating the CDWA apparel line, clothing all the people in CDWA Nation and allowing me to look great when I compete.
Blue Seventy: Thank you for giving me such an awesome expensive wetsuit like the Helix, knowing fair well that I will just go pee in it each and every tim I put it on. Such disrespect to your product this is but somehow you still continue to keep supporting me with your product.
New Balance: Thank you for giving me flashy glow in the dark shoes so everyone can see me because you sure as heck know I can’t see them.
Carie Goldberg and Gold Standard Sports, sometime I feel really sorry for you having to deal with my antics. You have realized my passion and loyalty to what I believe and stand for. This is the reason we have made it this far. To my website designer Justin Fales, a Spartan and friend, that has probably through to himself many times, “how can this kid be this computer illiterate.” My response is, “yes, that is correct and i am really okay with that.” To graphic designers like Tyler Wain and Seattle Flashing Lights photography you have done such a great job at some how Photoshopping pictures of me to look spectacular.
One would think that in 15yrs in the sport of triathlon I would have have had more than one coach to thank but in all honesty I just got my first coach a month ago and to Mark Sortino and Team MPI, "Bless your heart." I still refuse to call my self a triathlete. Yes, I do triathlons but I am not a triathlete. So all those out there thinking that just because I have a coach I am a triathlete, don't be spreading rumors. I do triathlons but I still like wearing baggy short to run in and have never had a workout schedule to follow religiously. Oh, and I never tried to go pro after winning my age group at the Jack and Jill Triathlon. This is all off the subject but thanks Mark for dealing with a true handful.
My guides are the ones that get crapped on the most but really should receive all the credit. Either way they do it they will always get blamed and made out to be at fault. They constantly have to deal with the Circus Show I put on and even are forced to sign a contract sating that I am in full control of them until otherwise stated. They probably should run me into a tree every now and then but thank you to all my guides that resist their temptations to do so.
Triathlon Club and Training Groups:
MSU Triathlon Club: My little baby at Michigan state University was the MSU TriClub. It still is my little baby and will always be. I get much support and motivation from my fellow Spartan Tri members. The club taught me how to be a leader and even more taught me how to bleed green and white. The Spartan TriClub has also provided many guides for me including JP Severin, Matt Inch, Bill Vann, Aaron Bachman and Josh McCallum.
Club Northwest is probably the best running club in the Pacific Northwest and they have taught me that I’m really not that good at running. With so many faster runners than myself, its always a humbling experience going to the track and seeing that I may be a great triathlete but I’m just an above average runner. Thanks to Tom Cottner for making running his life and giving great workouts to push me to new PR’s.
Cascade Swim Club has also taught me that I’m not that great of swimmer either (I may be good but not great). Hanging out with a bunch of high school kids brings back the good old days. It also makes me realize how much swimming is all about body position and technique. Little pre-pubescent boys can out swim grown men that are in much better physical shape then them merely by having better form. Cascade SC has also brought back to the days of swimming in high school where it was not uncommon to have a main set of 60 X 100yds or 10 X 700yds. Thank you Cascade SC for kicking my butt every practice
Blind Advocacy Groups/Non-profitss
Many blind advocacy groups such as United States Association of Blind Athletes (USABA), the C Different Foundation, Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) and more have helped me develop and implement my mission. It takes a lot of support to create a mission and stand your ground to uphold that mission once it gets challenged. I feel as though I have always maintained my mission of educating society about the blind/VI community and fighting for their rights at time when rules and regulations have acted to take these rights away. In these situations, I never could have done it without the support of these advocacy groups.
Last and most importantly, my fans. From those that have been given the name "Super Fan", and you know who you are, to those that have supported me at a single event or home stay. All of you are apart of the village. In fact, you all are the glue that holds the smaller groups within the village together. You not only inspire me but you inspire the nation. THE CDWA NATION!!! Thank you so much!!!
As you can see , I have not done this alone. In fact I have probably left many people out of this thank you and I apologize to all those that I have forgotten. The village would not be complete without you as well. Right now CDWA Nation is thriving but it can grow so much more. When ever you wear your eye chart shirt make sure to tell someone else about the CDWA mission. In fact, get a shirt as a gift for someone and explain to them what CDifferentwithAaron is all about. Lastly, I am always looking for new ideas to spread my mission and reach new people so always feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org .