Tracy Rivas: Trust over fear

tracy-rivas“I’ve always believed that God calls us to give our time and talents, not just our finances, for Him to use,” Tracy said.

And she puts her money where her mouth is.

After two years of watching her husband, Mitch, run the half marathon in LA, Tracy decided to join him. Expecting to sign up for the half marathon, a surprise event change pushed Tracy into the full marathon distance instead. “I could not run a block without feeling like I wanted to die,” Tracy said, “Our team members were all in middle-age-ness and it was a huge step for me because I didn’t know how I was going to do it.”

img_2089Well, just six weeks from race day, Tracy discovered a lump in her breast. She needed surgery that would prevent her from running and take her out of the race. “No one would fault me for saying I was going to quit. I just had this sense that I really needed to trust God that I could follow through on the commitment I had made and trust that it would take care of itself,” Tracy explained. Impressed and surprised by her faith, the surgeon scheduled Tracy for after the marathon so she could still run. The lump was benign. 

“The next year, I knew I could trust God with something even bigger, and that’s why I set the fundraising goal,” said Tracy. John Huddle, TWV staff in LA, challenged her to set a $10,000 goal. “I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach—I thought I might throw up. It meant relinquishing complete control,” she said.

So Tracy set a $5,000 goal—bigger, but still attainable—and began to bargain with God. “If I email my principal and she gives me 5 minutes at the start of our faculty meeting, THEN I’ll raise my goal,” she thought. She got 5 minutes. “Okay, if I make this presentation to my fellow teachers and someone donates, THEN I’ll raise my goal,” she thought. She got a $100 gift before the meeting was out, and $600 before the school day was out. “This was God saying, ‘You have to trust me,’” Tracy said. And she increased her goal to $10,000.

img_1562Tracy closed out that year raising over $14,000, matching what her donors gave with the profits from her Etsy shop (trusting that God would provide the money they needed for a new car in a different way—which He did). And you know what? The next year she raised over $12,000. (While Mitch raised over $10,000 and her 13-year-old son, Wyatt, raised over $2,000!) And this year, she’s aiming to do it again. But it’s not easy. She’s a busy teacher and mom, some days so exhausted she’s not sure how she can make it all happen and afraid that she won’t be able to do it again.

But still she says, “It’s easy to trust that God can work when the answer is already a foregone conclusion. But when the answer is a huge question mark, well, that’s a different story. How easy it is to walk away from opportunities to experience a deeper level of trust just because we are afraid.” 

Tracy, what an inspiration you are through your example of faith and trust leading you on this incredible journey. We are so encouraged by your willingness to be an advocate for clean water, even in the face of huge question marks. Thank you for taking these steps of faith and sacrificially giving your time, talents, and finances for the sake of others. 

Brianna Hammond: Saying YES to the Unknown

Brianna Hammond“I was at place in my life where I needed to find a purpose outside of myself and my family,” says Brianna Hammond. “And Team World Vision clicked with me. It broke me out of being neutral. I had been living my life in a very safe space because it was comfortable. This made me become more of a risk-taker. I liked what it felt like to stand up for something that was important to me.”

That’s how Brianna, someone who had never been an athlete and didn’t know anything about the clean water crisis, describes her first LA Marathon journey. And it’s why she ran the next year. And the year after that too. It’s why she’s raised almost $30,000 personally, and why she became the captain of her church team that has raised over $250,000.

And even after all that, it’s why this year Brianna ran the 56-mile Comrades Marathon and found sponsors for 86 children. “I needed to take a big risk in my life,” she said, “I’ve never said yes to something I didn’t already know I could do. This was a place I could allow God to show his magnificence and strength in my life. I had to totally give it over to him.” 

So she did. As Brianna covered those 56 miles, she just kept putting one foot in front of the other, praying that God would not take away her pain, but help her endure it. “The children who were sponsored — they don’t get to quit,” she said, “They have to endure things no child should have to endure, no mother should have to endure.”

Brianna victoriously crossed that finish line with just 9 minutes to spare. “It was one of the best days of my life, seeing what God can do when we give him the space in our lives to do it. I had never allowed him to show up in that way.”

Ocean Hills teamNow Brianna is back in LA, ready for more. “I never want to reach my goal,” Brianna said. “If I get close to my goal, it’s going to get bumped up. What do I have to lose? There is always a need for clean water and always more that can be done.” 

She’s also excited to continue to lead her church team and encourage other people to take on big risks of their own.  “I hope there were some people sitting in the audience last year watching it all happen who have the courage to say yes this year. That’s where growth occurs the most, where we risk the most,” she said. “I love seeing the unlikely heroes that emerge because of hearts that are broken for the cause.”

Brianna, what an inspiration you are to our team! Thank you for leading so boldly and faithfully, and for being willing to take risks for the sake of others. And thank you for showing us what can happen when we allow God the space in our lives to show up in big ways. You have given hope and life to hundreds of children and we are so grateful for you.

Mike Donley: What if you did?

Mike DonleyMike is an actor, a musician, a playwright, and all around creative type. Athletics was never his thing.

So when someone at Mike’s church invited him to run on Team World Vision, he laughed in her face. “I’m 51, a cancer survivor, I’m so busy, and running a marathon could not be farther from my bucket list,” Mike told her. “I’ll keep giving, but running is ridiculous.”

She pushed. “What if there is a chance that when you run, the money you raise could be much more than if you just gave?” Irritated at her challenge, Mike grabbed the flyer and walked away. But two days later, he was woken up with the phrase, “What if you did?” (That NEVER happens to him, by the way, ever.)

Now let’s back up for a second. When Mike was 24 and newly married, he was diagnosed with cancer that led to lots of chemo and surgeries. At one point, a doctor mistakenly told Mike that he would only have a few years to live. “You make a decision to do all you can to survive,” he said, “You learn how to not give up and to rely on the prayers of others when you don’t have the strength of your own.” In a word, he learned resilience.

So as Mike considered that question—What if you did?—he summoned that resilience and decided to choose life again. But this time, he was choosing life for others.

By the end of the week, he was signed up for the marathon. And when people asked why, “I told them 100% of the pie was about clean water.”

“But as I started training,” Mike said, “I realized I liked how my body felt, that I liked training with a group of people I would have never met, that there was spiritual growth happening as I suffered through the training plan. There was this whole pie I had never even considered before. I was getting two pies for the price of one.”

As Mike told his non-runner story and shared his heart for the cause, people started to give. In the end, he raised almost $15,000 and provided clean water for nearly 300 people. “It was unbelievable,” he said.

“God is at the center of it all giving me the chance to do new things and I’m very thankful to use my body at this stage in my life.” It’s why Mike is currently signed up for his second Twin Cities Marathon aiming to raise another $15,000.

Mike, thank you for being willing to find out the answer to the question, “What if you did?” Water and life for hundreds of children, that’s what.   

Caleb Chung: Little Tsunami

Caleb ChungAUG 31, 2016 UPDATE: Caleb is our newest Team World Vision Legend! He has now raised over $50,000 for clean water in Africa. Welcome to the Legends Club, Caleb!


Here’s a brief overview of Caleb Chung’s Team World Vision history:

  • 2013: Ran a 1-mile race; raised $900
  • 2014: Ran a 5K; raised $3,500
  • 2015: Recruited a team of 5 friends; ran his first half marathon; raised over $45,000
  • 2016: Running another half marathon this September; $10,000 goal

Did we mention Caleb is 11 years old?

“When I was about 8, my parents started telling me about kids my age in Africa who had to walk miles to get water that wasn’t even safe to drink,” Caleb told us, “And I wanted to do something to help because it wasn’t their fault.”

At first, Caleb set up lemonade stands to raise money. But he wanted to do more. His parents were running with Team World Vision in Colorado, so Caleb asked if he could run too. He started with a 1 Mile race, but by his third year on the team, a TWV staff member proposed the idea of Caleb running the half marathon. “It seemed like a long shot,” Caleb said, “But then I started thinking about it. Kids had to walk distances as long as this for water that wasn’t even clean. So after looking at the training plan, I decided to sign up.”  

Little TsunamisBut Caleb didn’t just sign up. He also got five of his friends to run with him. “I told them the same thing that I had learned about kids that had to walk for water and they were moved too,” Caleb said. They called themselves the Little Tsunamis, and together provided clean water to over 1,100 people in Africa.

No one can say it better than Caleb himself:

On training: “I usually run after school. I just think about the kids and I imagine them at the same time that I am running, I imagine them walking for water. Even though what I am doing is hard, it’s not as hard as what they have to go through.”

On fundraising: “Most of it was just being consistent. I sent an email to everyone I knew asking for donations. I also asked in person. Once someone gave me a donation I made sure to say thank you. And every once and while I would send out a mass email with how many kids had been saved, thank everyone, and say that there were still more [kids] to be saved. My original goal was $10,000 which I thought I wouldn’t achieve. But as the donations started coming in, I kept raising my goal. I was surprised because I didn’t expect people to be this generous.”

So what’s next for Caleb? He’s currently signed up for the American Discovery Trail Half Marathon in September. “This year I’m starting at $10,000 again. My goal is to save as many kids as I can.”

Caleb, we are so honored to have you on Team World Vision, and so inspired by your incredible passion and tenacity to help kids around the world. Thank you for giving so much of yourself on behalf of kids in need. You are a world-changer. Never forget it.   

What Caleb might not tell you is that he’s less than $500 away from becoming a Team World Vision Legend! If you want to help Caleb hit an epic milestone of $50,000 raised, you can donate to his effort here.

Also, he gave an incredible speech at the 2016 World Vision Conference. You can watch it here!

Amber Walker: 56 miles for 56 lives

Amber WalkerAmber Walker has been dreaming about running the Comrades Marathon (a 56-mile ultra marathon through the hills of South Africa) for four years. After reading about the epic race in a magazine, she knew she wanted to try it even though it seemed out of reach.

But next week, Amber’s dream will come true.“When I found out that Team World Vision had a team, I pretty much jumped up and down,” she said. She’s trained for months, fought through injury, and imagined what it will be like to finally be there. Now it’s time. 

Amber has been running with Team World Vision for seven years in Seattle. “It feels like what I’m supposed to do. God just places things on your heart. I don’t really know why, but I know I’m supposed to keep running.”

But the race is just part of Amber’s story.

Amber has a World Vision sponsored child named Matolase. “She’s close to my own daughter’s age so I always wonder what she’s learning or how she’s doing. I know all of the dangers that she is exposed to and I just can’t help thinking, what if it was my own daughter? I would want someone to help.

And that’s why Amber is looking for sponsors for 56 kids – one for each mile of the 56-mile race. “When I started this I didn’t even think I knew 56 people,” Amber said, who is admittedly quiet and happy to spend time in smaller social circles. 

But Amber is not one to give up on a challenge, especially one so close to her heart. After countless bold asks, Amber has found sponsors for 54 children! That’s 54 children who will now have access to things like clean water, food, education and a future. She’s looking for 2 more sponsors* to reach her goal before she boards her flight, but of course more would be even better, she said.

Amber, you are a force to be reckoned with! Let the children who you serve give you hope and courage as you face those South African hills. Thank you for so boldly advocating on behalf of these kids. We’ll be cheering for you out there!

*Want to help Amber reach her goal? Email teamworldvision@worldvision.org and let us know!

Evan and Debbie McBroom: Going Farther Together

McBroomsIt started with Evan. After five years of running half marathons, Evan’s friends urged him to run a full marathon. “And you have to do it with Team World Vision,” they said. So he did. 

One day to cure his boredom on a dreaded treadmill run, Evan started to visualize what it would be like finishing the Chicago Marathon; all of those people on the sidelines cheering him on to the finish line. And suddenly, out of nowhere, all of those faces in the crowd turned to faces of women and children in Africa. “That’s when I knew this was really important,” Evan said, “It’s not running plus clean water. It’s clean water plus running.

While Evan trained for his first marathon, Debbie watched. She had done many triathlons, but they had always been about her own challenge, satisfaction, or fun. She never really liked running, but when she was cheering Evan on through his marathon, something clicked. She saw the beauty of the team working together, cheering each other on, and she thought, “I think I’m going to have to do this.” She knew that it was God stirring up something in her heart. 

The McBrooms Go Farther TogetherWhat’s awesome about Evan and Debbie’s story is that they have been individually and uniquely moved to run for clean water as a couple. On the eve of an empty nest, Evan and Debbie have thought a lot about what life is going to look like for them without kids at home. “We see couples who come to the point of being empty-nesters and don’t know what to do with each other,” Evan explained. “We want to do something of importance with our lives, together.” So the McBrooms not only continue to run races and fundraise with Team World Vision, but they have helped lead and launch new teams all over the Indianapolis area. 

Evan and Debbie talk about Psalm 37:4: “Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Neither of them had a life-long passion for running or for clean water that led them to join Team World Vision. But they say they have seen how God has placed new desires in their hearts—to live a life of importance, to serve in ministry as a couple, to care for the poor, to combine a love of fitness with clean water—and how He is making those desires come about. 

Remember the image Evan saw on the treadmill a few years ago? Well this year, Evan and Debbie traveled to Ethiopia to see some of World Vision’s work. It was there, a few years after that treadmill run, that the image became real: they saw women and children celebrating that they now have access to clean water. It was like all of the puzzle pieces of their journey, all of the desires that God had been placing on their hearts, finally came together into a beautiful picture, Debbie described. “We’re just grateful that God is letting us live this story.”

Thank you, Evan and Debbie, for your example of joyful faithfulness and service to others, together.

Have you seen Evan’s Ridiculous Clean Water Music Video? It helped him raise enough money to provide 125 people with clean water in 2014. This year, Evan and Debbie’s goals total $13,000!

Russ Funk: Reshuffling his cards

Russ FunkRuss Funk was scheduled to have knee replacement surgery in September of 2010. It was a hard reality to face having been an athlete in high school and college. But after 25 years of arthritis developing in his knees, he couldn’t escape it. His knees were in constant pain.

So it came as a shock when Russ announced to his family that he would be running a half marathon with Team World Vision that year. (You might already know that you can’t run on knee replacements.)

Russ had rescheduled his knee surgery in order to run the race instead. He couldn’t sit without aching and moaning, he hadn’t run a step in 25 years, and the race was 12 weeks away. Never mind that just a month earlier when asked how many races he had run, he had humbly replied, “None. Running is not in the cards for me.

But when he had asked his doctor about running the half marathon, the doctor told him, “Your knees are already shot, so if you can stand the pain, you might as well completely break them.” So Russ decided to reshuffle his cards.

He indeed ran that half marathon in 2010, and since then has completed 20 half marathons, 2 full marathons, and 7 triathlons (including a Half Ironman) on behalf of kids in Africa. He’s been a team captain in Phoenix, encouraged team members across their finish lines, and traveled to Africa with his wife, Pam, to meet their sponsored child in Kenya.

And on March 19, 2016, Russ ran the World Vision Global 6K for Water in his hometown of Phoenix. After 5 years of defying the odds, Russ celebrated his last running event with 8,000 of his closest friends across the country. Just 10 days later, Russ finally had that knee replacement. 

But that won’t stop him from doing whatever he can to help provide clean water to communities in Africa. At the Global 6K, Russ talked about taking on the Legacy challenge this year and what events he could do to help him raise $10,000. He’s already signed up for a triathlon relay with his sons (he’ll do the swimming and biking portions), and is looking into cycling events for once he has recovered from surgery.  

Russ, for five years you’ve endured relentless pain for the sake of others. You’ve literally broken your knees to care for children around the world. You’ve run for water, hope, and life. You are an inspiration to all who know you and we’re so thankful to have you on the team. Here’s to many more races!

Aimee Miller Parra: Faithful Sojourner

Aimee Miller ParraAimee happened to be visiting Park Community Church with her friend on the day that Team World Vision showed up to invite people to run the Chicago Marathon. She wasn’t a church-goer and she wasn’t a runner. But she was moved to join the team and run for kids who needed clean water.

From there, her life changed pretty drastically.

We think you should just go ahead and watch her story.

Kristin Boorse: Never Done

Kristin BoorseAs of this post, Kristin has raised over $41,000 for clean water through her Team World Vision efforts. And she’s not done yet.

What’s her secret? Well, two things:

First, she says, “Every time I pray about my goal, there is a number that comes to me. And as I get close to my goal, I raise it. I never want someone to come to my fundraising page and think, ‘Oh, it’s done.’ There’s always one more child. No matter what my goal is, I’ll always continue to up it because the need is so great and the impact is so huge.”

Second, “It is definitely a lot of work. It won’t just happen. You really have to have a plan. But I believe in pouring your heart out there and being persistent. People will respond to that.” And that’s certainly what Kristin has done, both in her own fundraising and to help encourage others.

As a team captain in Phoenix, Kristin saw that fundraising is what scared people the most when they committed to joining Team World Vision. So she worked with Christine Altavilla to host an event called “Fundraising to the Finish Line.” They invited all of their teammates in the Phoenix area to equip them to be bold and successful fundraisers. They even practiced asking for a donation and getting a “no” so people could get over their fear. We think that’s pretty awesome.

Be like Kristin! Here are her 5 P’s of Fundraising:

  1. Passion: Own and know the cause.
  2. Personalize: Make asks specific and personal.
  3. Persistence: Follow-up several times.
  4. Prayer: About setting your goal. About upping your goal. 
  5. Pthanks*: For everyone who supports you. (*She knows it doesn’t actually start with P.)