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. 

The Scheer Family: All In

Scheer FamilyIn July of 2013, Cory Scheer was in a life-threatening bike accident. Miraculously, he walked out of the hospital 2 days later, but, as you might expect, his life was never the same.

That same year, Cory started on a journey of running 12 marathons in 12 months, calling it “The Basic Needs Marathon Challenge,” raising money for 5 different charities over the course of the year. His incredible story—and his commitment to helping others through the telling of it—landed him a finalist spot in a Runner’s World Cover Contest in 2014.

That’s when Cory met Rusty, a Team World Vision staff person and fellow Runner’s World finalist. Passionate about helping meet the basic needs of children through running, Team World Vision became a perfect fit for Cory. The problem was, Team World Vision didn’t have an event in Cory’s hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. So Cory, with crucial encouragement and involvement from his family, helped change that.

Cory ScheerIn 2015, Cory and his wife, Jamie, volunteered to co-captain a team from their church–Pleasant Valley Baptist Church–and run the Kansas City Marathon and Half Marathon. In the first year, they had a goal of getting 100 people from KC to run and raise $100,000. Well, as Cory said, “For us, Team World Vision has been about continual exceeding of expectations. We think we’ve accomplished something, but then God does more.” In their first year, the KC team was almost 300 runners strong and raised $210,000. 

“Jamie has been an incredible volunteer,” says Cory. She is a physical and nutritional therapist and has helped lots of her teammates as they’ve trained for the race. “This has not just been about one person, we’ve truly had a co-captain model,” said Cory.

Scheer kidsAnd they haven’t stopped there. Cory and Jamie’s kids—Cailyn (13), Isaac (11), Evan (5), and Levi (5)—have been clean water advocates as well. The kids are always at group runs cheering people on, have volunteered at the World Vision 6K for Water, and even organized fundraisers for clean water at their school. “It’s important to us that any time we can model a life of generosity, we do it. And the only way our kids can learn that is to be involved and participate,” Cory says. 

This year, the Scheers are at it again. They are key volunteer leaders in Kansas City, spreading the word about how to run for clean water with Team World Vision. There are already over 600 people signed up for the Kansas City Marathon in October (2 of which are Cory and Jamie of course). 

As Cory reflected recently on the 3-year anniversary of his accident, he wrote: “By God’s grace and His grace alone, the “tragedy” has been transformed into a new trajectory. My family’s entire frame of reference has moved further away from entitlement and more towards gratitude. Had I not gone through this experience, I may have never connected with Team World Vision, an organization mobilizing thousands of people to raise millions of dollars to end the water crisis in Africa. The work of providing clean water goes on. We each have an opportunity, by God’s grace and grace alone, to create a new trajectory for those living in tragic circumstances.”

Thank you, Scheer Family, for your incredibly generous commitment of time, resources, and influence in order to help create a better world for children in need. You ALL have played an essential role in bringing Team World Vision to a new city, and with you, we stand in awe of the work God is doing as a result of your willingness to serve. Thank you for your leadership in Kansas City and beyond. 

 

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.