Let Nothing Stand In Your Way

Every New Year brings new challenges to be SET AND ACCOMPLISHED! What goals do you have for yourself, or for your family in 2015? More importantly, what steps are you taking to get there? Only YOU can motivate yourself to begin that journey – one step at a time. Our promise to you: it will be worth it.

2014 was an amazing time of international competition, crewing, race-directing and helping progress the United States Winter Swimming Associations’ (www.uswsa.org) inaugural event this February. It also brought about the development of a continued stream of speaking engagements across the south, and north east to grow my business, ‘Every Breath A Gift’, by highlighting concepts I’ve learned through years of endurance athletics and a decade of financial sales: (http://dailynews.openwaterswimming.com/2014/12/every-breath-gift-on-land-and-in-water.html). 2015 is opening strong with my first (of two) West Coast speaking engagements in January and February outside of Los Angeles (Newport Beach/Laguna Beach) at the Voya and Steadfast National Financial Sales Conferences. These incredible opportunities to speak on the national stage are a true blessing that I worked hard to achieve! Speaking to the likes of Chevron, Morgan Stanley and Penn State University over the past year, my confidence and determination to handle any event, large or small, is very strong. Give me the opportunity to build a truly unique, and motivating presentation for your next corporate event! Most importantly, 20% of my speaking fee will be donated back to Team Forever and the Forever Fund at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

For me, Alli, 2014 was a year of great loss and great beginnings. I lost my grandfather, Dr. Dick Wheelock, a pillar of charity in the southern California community I call home. I left family and friends to pursue an exciting career opportunity in Marfa, Texas, far away from an airport, let alone open water. As I struggled to find stability in my new surroundings, my coworker (Caitlin Murray) was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 29. At first, I wasn’t sure how to react to the news and let my emotions take over. There is no water in west Texas, true. But with land as wild and free as the Pacific, what do you do? That’s when I began to seriously consider training for the Big Bend 50, an ultra marathon in the Big Bend Ranch State Park. The blessings that followed included the blossoming of a friendship into the love of my life and continuing on the incredible journey that began when I completed my own cancer treatment little over four years ago.

This weekend we will be running the Big Bend 50 ultra-marathon (http://www.bigbend50.com). In honor of Caitlin and her battle with colon cancer, this challenge is an opportunity for us to help raise money for First Descents (firstdescents.org), a Denver-based non-profit that offers young adult cancer fighters and survivors a free outdoor adventure experience designed to “empower them to climb, paddle and surf beyond their diagnosis, defy their cancer, reclaim their lives and connect with others doing the same.” Please consider donating to this amazing cause in honor of this challenge (http://tfd.firstdescents.org/goto/bigbendalli). I, Darren, couldn’t think of anything better than traversing over 50-miles of raw west Texas country beside such an amazing and powerful woman! You can learn more about Alli’s passionate story through life on her own personal site: (channeledin.com).

As we all move forward in our lives, let us pray for the opportunities to grow in strength and love. Not only for mental and physical strength to get through the day and whatever challenges we are up against, but also never forgetting to love the incredible journey we are all traveling, and being thankful for the OPPORTUNITY TO LIVE! May we always remember to smile – even when we are in pain and agony, because we remember that life could be much more tough. May we also have a better understanding of what we are capable of achieving, and not be afraid to take the risk. Finally, despite the fact we are all going down different paths, respect one another, because we all are going to encounter difficult times ahead. Remain the course, lace up the boots, stand tall and let out your war cry! Know that no matter what you’re going through, there is nothing that you cannot handle in your life. JUST BELIEVE!

Cheers and love from Texas to Pittsburgh,

Alli & Darren