Film benefits local athletes, Kenyan islanders
The Roaring Fork Women’s Triathlon Team is trying something different this year with their annual fundraiser for scholarships and foreign aid.
Instead of the standard silent auction, they’re bringing Red Zeppelin Productions’ film “TRI” to Carbondale’s Crystal Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20. Tickets are $20 and available in advance at tinyurl.com/RFWTRI.
“Fun, fitness and philanthropy” has been the team’s motto since it was founded in 2000 by personal fitness instructor Judy Haynes and social worker and coach Nancy Reinisch.
“We cheer for each other. We run for each other,” Reinisch observed. “We started out with six people our first year. They told six people the next year and so on, and now we have to close registration at 60.”
The 14-week training program begins each May and ends in August with a field trip to Denver to complete the Tri for the Cure triathlon. The event itself is for a cause, but the team’s efforts to give back extend further, from volunteering for an extended table to collecting coats for the Youth Recovery Center.
“When you do something for yourself, you have to do something for the community,” Reinisch said.
In some cases, that means supporting people in the program itself.
“Triathlon is not a cheap sport,” Reinisch said.
“We want it to be something everybody can do, so we’ve always had scholarship fund for people who can’t afford the registration and equipment.”
Their most recent project is a collaboration with Organic Health Response, an organization founded by Reinisch’s son, Chas Salmen.
Salmen has been passionate about helping poverty- and disease-stricken Kenya since he took research trip there as an undergraduate. Since then, he has spearheaded aid efforts on an island in Lake Victoria with a population of 30,000 but no running water and limited electricity. Among OHR’s projects is a solar-powered community center with Internet, a radio station, and the unique membership requirement of having your HIV status checked.
Another effort is an ambulance boat — the sick and injured used to have to wait for a twice-daily ferry to the mainland for health care — and, more recently, training “health navigators” for first response and basic medical care.
“Those programs do require ongoing support from hundreds of donors across the valley, but the solutions tend to be community rooted solutions. It’s about relationships and supporting one another,” Salmen said. “Hopefully this can be a model that can be useful in other places.”
While “TRI” is partially a fundraiser for that cause, its message is a little closer to home. It’s a fictional story of a young tech at a cancer center who is inspired to do her first triathlon — though you don’t have to be a tri participant to enjoy it.
“The film isn’t so much about the actual race. It’s more about the characters and the journey that they go through,” said director Jai Jamison.“We designed the film so that as many people as possible can enjoy it.”
Jamison himself is a newcomer to the tri community, and has been impressed with what he’s learned about it.
“I saw so many people all coming together with this amazing vibe of friendly competition,” he said. “It’s really about pushing yourself and accomplishing your own goals.”
“TRI” toured around the country over the summer with special screenings for athletic groups and will be released on various web and on-demand streaming platforms in a few months. The local showing is one of the few in a traditional movie theatre, and Reinisch sees it as the perfect fit.
“It’s about coming to terms with negative thinking and being able to cross the finish line,” she said. “It’s the story of almost everyone on our team.”
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