This year’s Feed the Dream project was a little different than in the past. While the previous two iterations revolved around a key event - the Olympics in 2016 and Ironman 70.3 + 140.6 Championships in 2017 - this year we opened up the net to “pre-pro” athletes of any sport, without a main event focus. We wanted to reach people who were seriously pursuing the next level of their sport, whatever that looked like to them and their arena.
Of all the applications we received, three stood out for various reasons. Ted, the triathlete who took a gamble on uprooting his “normal” life working long days in a New York high rise to move back to Minnesota and put a focus on his training. Amy, the collegiate powerlifter who showed as much passion for getting other women into the gym as she did competing herself. And Diamara, the pole vaulter from Puerto Rico who wanted to bring access and excitement about the sport to her home country while flying high through an injury-rebound year.
We set them up with free Picky Club deliveries, access to Jasyoga’s treasure trove of online athlete yoga content, and new this year, a competition costs stipend funded by our Feed the Dream t-shirts to use for travel costs, entry fees, or whatever they needed to get ready to compete at their highest level. (p.s. Thanks to everyone who purchased a shirt, we were able to give each athlete an additional $215! So fun getting to deliver that news.)
The goal of the Feed the Dream program - this year in particular - was to offer athletes that extra little boost, a training aid or a few dollars or just the encouragement of belief that they could and SHOULD chase their dreams.
And chase them they did.
This is our final check-in with Ted, Amy, and Diamara, but we’ll be forever fans of theirs. Join us in one last round of applause for the seasons they had!
In 2017 I saw Picky Bars’ Feed the Dream program and thought how cool it would be to be a part of. My thoughts were Pick Bars probably selects an up and coming pro with a few results to their name; way out of my universe for the time being. However, after being inspired by [my girlfriend] Dani to apply, I told them of my crazy dream to go from a 4:36 age group triathlete to earning pro status. And they accepted me!
I was beyond excited and told everyone I could; definitely the coolest thing to happen in my ‘career’ as a triathlete. The perks of the program were a healthy supply of Picky products, contact with Jesse (p.s., read the fine print, you may or may not have to win an Ironman &/or drive to Bend to do so), help from Erin at Jasyoga, and a cash stipend for all things exercise.
The tools Picky Bars gave me made the world of difference. Erin at Jasyoga is a saint and showed me how yoga can be used as a recovery agent along with finding presence through it all. The Picky Bars and Picky Oats fueled my workouts as each morning after swimming I’d consume a bowl of Picky Oats with a banana and egg (Mix all together, STIR!, 3 minutes in the mic, STIR, 1 minute, done). Then during races, I’d have two bars on the bike. Finally, the funds were used in PT visits. As soon as a niggle popped up, I was in PT getting work done and performing the RX’ed exercise to eliminate whatever issue was slowing me down. Something I might not have done without the extra funds.
After using every resource Picky Bars supplied, I was able to secure my pro card at Ironman Augusta 70.3 with a win. It was a day I’ll never forget and emailing Sarah at Picky Bars with the victory news made this whole program all that much more exciting. Moving forward, I’ll be taking my pro card and racing with the big names in 2019. Every day I’m working hard to be better than I was yesterday and my next dream: Ironman 70.3 World Championships. Until then, see you on the trails, in the coffee shops, or at the races!
It was a blast being part of Picky Bars’ Feed the Dream team in 2018! From the very start, Picky Bars was passionate about sharing my story and my passion for lifting heavy. They provided continuous support and motivation week after week, from encouraging emails to inspiring handwritten notes to exciting blog posts. I felt a sincere connection and enjoyed getting to know the close knit members of the team. Picky Bars provided me with healthy and tasty treats that were easy to grab on the go and stayed fresh and intact despite harsh packing conditions. Sharing product with friends and family, eating it on my travels, and bringing it to my workouts and competitions gave me countless opportunities to tell people about the strong energy-rich community I discovered in Bend, Oregon.
With respect to the financial funding, I used it to pay for my travel and competition fees for the three competitions I competed in this year. I took 1st place at the USAPL Cyclone Classic at Iowa State University, 3rd place at USAPL Collegiate Nationals in Austin, Texas and 4th place at USAPL Raw Nationals in Spokane, Washington. I hit personal records in each of the lifts making this year my strongest one to date! In addition, I was nationally recognized as a 2018 Tau Beta Pi Laureate in Denver, Colorado this October for "outstandingly exemplifying a spirit of liberal culture" in athletics.
Looking to 2019, I am excited to transition into a more competitive strongman routine, return to Raw Nationals even stronger, and become a coach for the non-profit Girls on the Run which is dedicated to empowering young girls though health and fitness education, character building, and leadership development. I will also continue working with Iowa State University's (ISU) Recreation Services team to make continued progress in the collegiate weight training areas with respect to increased inclusion and diversity, and assist campus recreation centers across the nation in doing the same.
I am excited to see how far the world of strength sports has come in 2018 and I look forward to further investing in its advancement in 2019! Thank you Picky Bars for coming alongside me and facilitating growth in both me and the strength sport community this year!
It is safe to say that my 2018 season went anything but as planned. I was looking forward to a comeback year after having had surgery the year before, for an injury that had been troubling me since the 2016 Olympics. I was excited, I was ready, and I had a solid support system behind me, including my newfound partnership with the Picky Crew thanks to Feed the Dream. Being selected for Feed the Dream served as enormous motivation, because before I had even started my season, they were there to say they believed in me enough to back me up. I looked forward to my box of healthy goodies every month with a handwritten note from the crew providing me with some kind words of support. Sadly just as I had started the peak of the season I suffered a freak accident during my national championship that ended my season and put me through another surgery. Despite that, Feed the Dream was there and made sure I got my box of goodies all the way in Puerto Rico with my favorite handwritten notes to let me know I was not only okay and supported, but that I was far from done.
With my physical participation sidelined, I found other ways to stay involved in the sport. There are so many young, talented athletes in Puerto Rico with limited resources or connections, especially following Hurricane Maria. There isn’t a development program established like Feed the Dream to support up-and-comers, so they have to win in order to garner attention or support, which deters some from their full potential. I hope to continue advocating for the sport and athletes down here, as well as bring some awareness to the improvements we can make here and in other low-supported areas.
I am thankful to be on the tail end of my recovery and to continue my journey to the 2020 Olympics. Feed the Dream has been a part of a hard journey for me and I think every athlete needs a program like this one to feed their momentum and of course, their dream.
For someone "on a break" from triathlon (Ross, is that you??) a mid-distance gravel race in beautiful Sun Valley Idaho proved exactly what Jesse needed. Video recap + Q+A...
Jesse offers his top training tips for preparing for Ironman World Championships, he and Lauren talk Netflix, battling amenorrhea, whether Picky packaging is recyclable & more.