No matter the event, sports provides an opportunity to bond people of all backgrounds and races in a common purpose. For a brief period of time, people are united in cheering on their favorite team in an expression of pride for their state or even country. Sports has a way of reminding us of the greatness we all possess. In any given moment an underdog can rise up and reignite faith in all of us. Sports is more than just a demonstration of athleticism—winning or losing—it’s about hope.
Wearing the number thirteen, Lawson Craddock, a U.S. cyclist, crashed on the first day of the Tour de France after a run in with a stray water bottle. He suffered a broken scapula and had a sizeable gash above his left eyebrow. When faced with the painful decision to either keep riding or withdraw from the race, Craddock decided to continue riding in support of his home track in Houston. Craddock pledged to donate $100 for each stage of the race he finished and donate the money to the outdoor velodrome in Houston where he first started cycling. Inspired, people from all over also pledged donations to the campaign which has now raised over $225,000.
Craddock continued to ride most of the 2,082 miles enduring the pain of his fracture including twenty-six climbs up mountains and hills and 13.5 miles of uneven and slippery cobblestones. Craddock was the first American to win the title “Lanterne Rouge” which the Tour designates for the last rider in the race. Many stated this was a testament to Craddock’s fortitude since the Tour requires the slowest riders to withdraw from the race if they fall too far outside of that day’s stage-winning time. For twenty-one stages, Craddock continued to make the cut which is something that 31 out of 176 riders who started the Tour de France were unable to do. Throughout the race he was cheered on by teammates, roadside fans, and 3,000 people who donated to his fundraising campaign. In the end, Craddock finished 145th—more than four and a half hours behind Geraint Thomas, the winner. The most important part was that he finished.
There are students all across America who face obstacles that feel just as painful and insurmountable. Some are first generation students who have the opportunity to achieve what no one else in their family have been able to do before them. Some are working professionals who are struggling to take care of their family and build a better life. Some are searching for their next meal in between working a low paying job and racing to get to class on time. But despite the barriers and challenges, they push on. Sometimes all these students need is a little extra support. Peers who provide encouragement. Programs that focus on flexibility. Institutions that understand the importance of affordable, educational options. Sometimes students just need a little hope.
The next time we take a look at offering new degree programs or refining our processes, we need to remember the students we serve. Our focus should be on making the journey a little easier by clearing a few more obstacles and providing support so every student knows the victory of finishing.
“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement and, at the same time, share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful.” ~ Marie Curie
Who supported you in achieving your dreams?