We all hear that voice in our heads at times to take on challenges that glorify Him or seek to expand His kingdom. I'll admit that I ignore that little voice often, but over the past 10 months that voice has been persistent. This story starts almost five years ago, back when I was a Principal at Falcon Pass Elementary. This was long before I knew I could do what is in my sights now. That is when I first met Kaden Smith, he was in Kindergarten.
If you are an educator you know those kind of kids that you instantly have a connection with, and this was Kaden for me. He had been diagnosed with epilepsy the year before Kindergarten and with understandably nervous parents I checked on him often to report back to them. Kaden's mom, Traci, was the new Chief Technology Officer at the time for Clear Creek ISD so it was easy for me to keep her updated. Kaden's sister, Kaylee, was in 3rd grade at Falcon Pass also. I could tell you many stories about Kaden, Kaylee and the impact they made on our school, their friends, and me during their short time at Falcon Pass. The Smith's headed back to the Austin area in the Fall of 2007 and we did our best to stay in touch.
Social networking and my move from Principal to Chief Technology Officer helped us stay connected over the years. It was always great to keep up with Kaden, Kaylee and their little brother Karson and hear about their lives and achievements. However, on August 3, 2010, I received some devastating news from those same channels. Kaden had lost his battle with epilepsy, and suffered a fatal seizure. He was 9 years old. As a parent of two little boys, and a fan of Kaden I really didn't know how to react. I really had no words, and I still don't.
Since Kaden's passing the Smith family has been an inspiration to me. While nobody can ever imagine the loss of a child they have vowed that his life had a purpose and they have worked diligently to raise awareness for epilepsy. Kaylee has especially stepped up, having been diagnosed with epilepsy herself this brave girl and her family have raised nearly $50,000 for the Epilepsy Foundation through a variety of avenues. As her former principal that used to preach the message of serving your community and doing things bigger than yourself, I am more than a little proud. So, what is that persistent voice saying?
I have decided to race Ironman Texas 70.3, April 1, 2012 in Galveston, TX In Memory of Kaden (IMOK). Along my journey I will document my progress and work with Kaylee to raise awareness as best we can through every avenue I can think of. You can donate right now at this First Giving site, and follow my every step on Daily Mile or on Twitter. I am a member of a triathlon team, tri4Him, and you can read our mission here. I hope that along the way some of my teammates will also pledge to race IMOK or whatever thing that little voice is saying they should pursue.
When I told Kaden's mom my plans she said she had been praying that something would come along to raise more awareness in the coming months. God is good! I know it is early, but what is your Reason to Race in 2012? If you read this, regardless of who you are, you can join our mission in 2012. Just help get the word out and I'll add you to my list of IMOK Triathletes in 2012.