We are still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Micheal. It was just last year we evacuated TO PANAMA CITY BEACH to ride out Irma. Now we pray in solidarity with those devastated by Huricane Michael. Our association with this region goes back 6 years, even seven as Rodney and Trish and Todd were some of the first from our triathlon group to race in this wonderful location. We all volunteered the year BEFORE our race year just to get in line to sign up for the next years race. We camped at St. Andrews State Park with Tom and Stan in 2012.
We raced our first Ironman on November 12, 2013 and Rodney and Trish were there at the finish line to greet us!! Our day started in the scene depicted above. Four or five big breakers to either go under or over and our 2.4 mile swim was begun. Then our long bike ride (112 miles) in the scenic counties surrounding Panama City and then our marathon out to St. Andrews park, and back again, Two Times!! All the while the hospitable residents of the Panhandle cheering us on. In subsequent years we watched Doug, and Randy, and Tracy, and Hope and Tracey and Dana and countless others take their place in that roll call of Ironman Finishers. Then the new racers at Gulf Coast 70.3 discovering the beauty of the region, Glen and Maureen and their families.
Now, devastation. This years class of Ironman competitors to a person is more sad about the loss of life and homes and businesses in this area of our home State of Florida than they are about a race lost. There is sadness there too, but it’s well on the back burner. Our first thoughts and prayers were for those living in that region. Then our thoughts were about how can we help? I would offer this. An organization that puts 100% of contributions to work is The Southern Baptist Relief Fund.
I recommend them as I have personally seen the work that they do. My Mom’s pastor has gone on these missions with the food and laundry trucks. I’ve seen their chain saw and mud crews at work. It’s just one reliable relief group, there are others.
Then, Pray. Pray for recovery. Indeed pray that Ironman, the organization, will do the right thing. I believe they will! As we watch the recovery unfold, watch for Ironman to step up and contribute. Like the people of The Panhandle, I pray Ironman will bounce back. As an alum of 2013, I hope to go back in 2023 on my 10 year anniversary and race again along the beautiful shores. God bless you and keep you until we see each other again. Clark and Cindy