Our motto at the KBF is “Life is Better Active” so, naturally, we talk a lot about being active, what it means to be active, and how to empower others to be active. One of my favorite parts about the KBF is that we help everyone be active, regardless of where they are on their journey from injury to independence, how old they are, how long they have been injured, what sport or activity gives them joy, or why they like to be active. So in practice, this means we will help equally the person who wants to win Paralympic gold, the person who wants to bike in the neighborhood with their kids, and the person who wants to climb huge mountains.

A couple of months ago the Kelly Brush Foundation was approached by Strava, which asked if we could help them beta test a new program they were launching this summer. Strava is an app that tracks exercise (mostly biking and running but many others as well) and has some social media features (i.e. you follow friends, give them “kudos” on their exercise, etc.).

Their new program is called Group Challenges and the idea is that you can get a group of family or friends “together” and set a challenge for a certain duration and you compete against each other. So you could set a week and see who could bike the most miles. Or who could ski the most vertical in weekend. Or who could ride the most number of gaps in a month. In the app you can watch the leaderboard of your group and see where you fall.

So we agreed to take part in this beta testing, which meant getting a group of adaptive athletes to participate in a challenge. We picked a group of 6 former KBF grant recipients who are all across the country and do lots of different sports. We set a 10-day period and the challenge was simple: who could spend the most time being active? We chose this challenge because, as I said at the start, we just love people to be active, it doesn’t matter how they do it or what they are doing.

I may be a weekend warrior now, but I was amazed at how quickly my competitive drive kicked in! These days I’m squarely in the ride-my-bike-with-my-kids camp and very occasionally have more adventurous activities. But as soon as I saw the amount of time others were being active I was trying to find more time for activity in my day. I even went home early one day to go for a bike ride, which I never do these days! The more active I am, the happier I am. It was great to see how much our KBF community could motivate me and the positive impact that had on my enjoyment of life.

I was also surprised at how active I actually was when I truly recorded all of my active time. In addition to road handcycles, I included the walks with my kids to the farm down the road, time spent with my kids biking on our little pump track in the back yard, as well as time I spent exercising my arms and shoulder with bands and weight lifting. I realized that I’m actually a lot more active than I thought I was!

Even though I was impressed with how much I was actually doing, I wasn’t even close to the leaders of our Group Challenge! At the end of the 10-day challenge I had spent a total of 8 hours and 20 minutes being active. The winner of our challenge spent 25 hours and 6 minutes! And the person in second place was less than 4 hours behind him. Each person in the challenge was using equipment for at least one of their sports that they got because of a grant from the KBF. It is so cool to see this equipment getting so much use! If anyone wonders whether their donation to the KBF has a direct impact on someone, here is your proof!

This beta test taught me some really important things. I’m more active (and more competitive) than I give myself credit for. There are some absolutely committed people in our KBF community. And most importantly, I am so proud to have played a part in helping some of them lead these lifestyles that give them so much joy and strength.

As so many of us think about training this summer for the Kelly Brush Ride, who’s setting up a Group Challenge?!?