In 2001 I spoke at an assembly at Cypress Elementary School in San Bernardino. Meeting the students there and seeing the world in which they were living, I wondered: What if we could help these kids by giving them the opportunity to get educated and better their lives?
Exceeding Expectations was created to address that goal.
This month we had 3 events and, with each one, I couldn’t help but reflect on that question asked 18 years ago.
Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) Triathlon, La Jolla
Our last letter spoke of the 7 kids who would be representing EE at this wonderful event. In addition, we were delighted to have 4 of our older college student/graduates there to help the younger kids.
-Archi Lai got up at 3:45 a.m. to pick Raul up and they drove down to San Diego to join us. Raul’s high school prom was Saturday night. Rather than have Raul miss the CAF event, Archi was quick to step up and volunteer to be his driver early Sunday morning.
-Isi Ibarra was another driver, and also spent the night in the hotel with Yoselin, who was the only girl who qualified. Isi is a many-time CAF participant, and she’s very good at using her experience to help the younger kids.
-Nik Keller now lives in the San Diego area. He and his fiancé, Ashley, joined us for dinner Saturday night. Then Nik kissed Ashley goodnight and came to the hotel with us where he was the “adult in the room” with a group of our boys.
-John Alvarez drove down early Sunday morning to join the group and support his younger cousin on the run.
It was very gratifying to watch our kids, young and older, handle themselves so well with other participants and attendees who serve as role models by overcoming enormous obstacles and living successful lives through hard work and determination.
The gang with
Rudy Garcia-Tolson, the first
double above-the-knee amputee to complete an IRONMAN
Richard and Ahris with Richard’s dad, Salvador
Tram Challenge, Palm Springs
For those of you unfamiliar with this event: This race starts at an elevation of 400 feet and ends 3.7 miles later at 2,600 feet. This is not your typical weekend race!
It’s a metaphor for a life full of accomlishment: It requires a commitment to a goal, hard work, never giving up and accepting failure with grace and success with humility.
Our youngest EE competitor was 7, the oldest 26, and we had a number of parents who ran or gamely walked to the top.
EE dominated the podium, with ten medals. 10-year-old Richard took a 3rd place overall, and that’s not a typo! Two other EE runners, Ricardo (16) and Ahris (10), were close behind Richard for overall podium spots and won their age groups. I proudly watched our kids, each of whom set goals for the race and worked hard to achieve them. They were humble when they won, gracious when they lost, and interacted warmly with the other participants.
guidance before the sun comes up
Not a race for
the faint of heart
overall for Richard!
The kids cleaned
College Prep Session for High School Seniors
Four of our kids will graduate from high school in June ’20 so it was time to give them laptops and start the plans for the next phase. And who better to give guidance on that than those EE kids who have already made that transition. Isi, Archi, John and Reese (a “Friend of EE” and devoted volunteer) shared their experiences and helped the kids focus on their personal goals, study possible college options, and navigate the world of funding applications and other financial opportunities.
And a lot of one-on-one guidance from the “college savvy.” Below, clockwise from
Jeffrey & Archi, Saul & Isi, Ricardo & Reese, John & Vanessa
Eighteen years since I first asked that key question, events like these three clearly answer it. These kids are thriving, as are many of their families, proving that the potential is there and it only takes a little guidance and some opportunities to bring it out.
We currently have 4 college graduates. Josh will become our 5th next June when he graduates from Cal State San Bernardino with a degree in Music and plans for graduate school. John will become our 6th a quarter later, graduating from Cal Baptist University with a degree in Construction Management. Currently we have 15 EE kids in college: four in 2-year schools, eleven in 4-year schools.
Back in 2001, we knew that “getting kids educated” was an expensive venture because not one of these kids had the financial means to go to college. We didn’t have the foresight to look down the road 18 years and wonder where these funds would come from. But, thanks to generous EE supporters like each of you, we’ve been able to live up to the promise I make every EE kid, which is a simple one: Your job is to work hard, graduate from high school and get accepted to the school that is best for you. Our job is to make sure finances never become an obstacle.
We thank you for all you’ve done over the years to help these kids be successful. Our work is just beginning. There are many more kids who will thrive if just given the opportunity. With your continued help we will be there to provide those opportunities and watch them thrive.
Thank you very much
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