July 6, 2011

by: Beth Lucas

Evolution of a Team

Team UCP MembersHere we are, less than five weeks away from the 25th Anniversary Cleveland Triathlon, and Team UCP is at it again!  Each year, we strive to be even bigger and better, and each year we have succeeded in doing so.  If early indicators hold true, 2011 will be no different!

Most of you have probably heard the story of Dick Hoyt coming to Cleveland in 2007 to share his journey of completing triathlons and marathons with his adult son Rick.  Rick has cerebral palsy and his father has included him in races for over thirty years.  After hearing the Hoyt’s moving story, ten families were INSPIRED to complete the Cleveland Triathlon the following year.

That was the beginning, and even as I led the efforts of Team UCP from the agency side throughout 2008 – I never imagined it would become the movement it is today.  From 65 total Team UCP participants and 50 volunteers in 2008 to 400 participants and 150 volunteers in 2010, Team UCP has grown and evolved into a true force.  This year we are projected to raise over $200,000 for UCP of Greater Cleveland programs and services.  Even with all of these advances, the numbers are only a piece of the puzzle.  The real story is HOW Team UCP has accomplished these amazing feats.

Team Elsie RunningIt started as a simple idea: a group of parents would complete a triathlon while trying to raise funds to support UCP programming and spread awareness about the agency and the incredible children who work hard every day to be independent.  They began forming their own teams of family and close friends, and a few other community members decided to participate on our behalf.  After experiencing the excitement at that first race, they carried their energy throughout the next 12 months as they prepared to do it all over again.  UCP families talked with other families.  Volunteers remembered the exhilaration of the participants as they completed each leg and crossed the finish line.  The buzz spread through the media and the community about a group of people banding together to show just what can be done when you work together. 

The 2009 race numbers more than doubled and then tripled.  Team UCP was represented with a sea of colors on race day, including not only those participating but those who were there to cheer people on and witness something special.  Today, we are fortunate to have large corporations, law firms, retail establishments and general community members as a part of our team.  And all of this allows the agency to empower more children and adults with disabilities to advance their independence, productivity and inclusion in the community.

At UCP of Greater Cleveland, we know this is not something we accomplished on our own.  It is only due to our clients and their families and friends, our eTeam Benjamin Groupmployees and their networks and the generosity of the community that we have grown as strong as we are today.  We appreciate all the opportunities Pacific Sports and the Cleveland Triathlon have afforded us, as well as the encouragement of all of the ‘non-UCP’ athletes on race day.  All of you have made this progress possible and we look forward to a huge representation on August 7th of this year! 

Throughout the next several weeks, this site will feature blog posts from team captains, family members, friends and racers as well as spotlights on some of the unique individuals who continue to make this race what it is today.  You can also view some of the team member stories at www.active.com/donate/teamucp2011.  If you have the time, take a few moments to get to know everyone a little better and spread the word to your networks – I know I have been inspired and I hope you too are INSPIRED TO TRI!

See You at the Finish Line!

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