More than four weeks ago now, six fantastic members of the RSL-Women’s Team, my two youngest kids, and I returned from our best trip to Nigeria yet. While I am not proud of how long it has taken me to start reporting on the trip (“day job” realities have been quite demanding lately) I am extremely proud of what we–dozens of great team members, family, and generous supporters–have accomplished.
This will be the first of a handful of posts I will share over the next week. As you read and share in our experiences we hope you will love what we did so much that you’ll commit to start or keep supporting us however you can. Thanks! Here goes…
As you may be aware, this trip was all about persevering to being able to finish the Cup we started over one year ago and keeping the promise of Save-A-Thon and BRIDGES. The “R” in BRIDGES stands for resilience and we have needed plenty of that to get us on this trip.
For those of you who have been following our progress, first of all thank you for your patience and faith as the progress has been hard fought, you will be familiar with what Save-A-Thon For Africa is all about and what the heck we are trying to achieve. If not, check out our new presentation here. (Even if you do know what it’s about check out the presentation anyway. I think you’ll like it!)
Basically, this trip was all about two things:
- Keeping the promise to the people of the State of Osun in Nigeria that my company will never let them down. We promised to hold the Bridges Cup for the youth there and not just give them the chance to play their favorite sport in a fun, competitive tournament hosted by American volunteers but for the winners, at least, the chance to visit America to play soccer and be exposed to successful businesses, educational institutions, and people.
- Grow Save-A-Thon from its humble start just three years ago into something that will touch hundreds of thousands of lives in Nigeria and beyond through soccer. The plan is to do that by launching the Save-A-Thon program in the much larger market of Lagos, Africa’s Manhattan.
I am so honored to tell you that, thanks to members of the Real Salt Lake Women’s team, my family, my faithful partner Dickson, and a few generous supporters, this trip was a solid success. As I have reflected on what we accomplished on this short trip a month ago I have realized that we have reached a critical tipping point and that now, more than ever, Save-A-Thon For Africa has legs and will indeed last. There are still tons of sleepless nights and obstacles ahead BUT I know now that we will make it. We will save thousands and thousands of lives in Nigeria, and some in the USA, by changing the futures of all those who join our effort and strive to be their best through soccer and service.
Having the support of such a great organization in Real Salt Lake involved with us this time took our game to another level of professionalism, credibility and impact. I am grateful to head coach, Jeff Ginn, team manager, Sara Cowley, the three players who tried but just couldn’t quite swing the trip this time, and the entire team who allowed me and my team to take some of their precious time to introduce Save-A-Thon. Thank you! We can’t wait to get you more involved with us now and into the future. There is much work to do and so many people to help, inspire, and change that our door is always open.
And to the six amazing women who joined us in Lagos on this trip you will always be a special part of Save-A-Thon. After sharing the experience of Nigeria together, the sights, smells, sounds, driving, and, yes, sweat I consider you family now and am grateful for your tremendous talents, hearts, and hard work without which this trip wouldn’t have been nearly the success it was.
Maddy Grainger, Natalie Norris, Colette Jepson, Alyssa Amano, Lexi Robison, and Jeni Viernes are fantastic women that you would be fortunate to know. (Special thanks to their families for supporting them and trusting me to get us all home safely.)
Stay tuned for next post to see details of the trip and learn more about these ladies and the amazing fun we had and the good we did. Including some photos which will reveal much more than my words on these pages.