• Brenda Ridgley

Make a Difference!

Most of us strive to make an impact, leave a legacy or at least to leave this earth a little better than we found it.  Some choose to do it through their profession and others squeeze it in on the side.  Yet a third group work for an employer or build a business as a means to realize their dream and fund their burning desire to help others.  “Making a Difference”, according to website 80000hours.org, is defined as: “The number of people whose lives you improve, and how much you improve them.”

Tony Robbins shares in an article,  10 Easy Ways to Make a Big Impact that even the smallest of gestures can make the world a better place.  He often says, “The secret to living is giving” and goes on to say that this doesn’t always mean giving money.  There are many great causes out there, and our family has regularly contributed to several.  In 2012 I was inspired to do something different:

View from Central Park, Firestone Colorado

I was taking a jog on a beautiful May day in Carbon Valley where we have raised our family and started a handful of businesses.  The spring is particularly stunning in our community as everything green’s up (before the summer heat) and we still have spectacular views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains.  We are located east just far enough to get an awesome view of the Front Range.  As I was running thru Firestone’s Central Park, breathing in the cool crisp air and in awe of our view, I thought to myself… “Wow, this is so beautiful…. and no one even knows we are here.  I want to share this with the world!  How do I do this and how can I make it special?”  My wheels started turning.

A few years prior, two of my best friends both had children diagnosed with Autism.  Early in their journey, I watched as they worried, tried to make sense of it, and champion for their child.  I saw other mothers with challenges they never dreamed of.  Having begun the parenting journey with the same hopes and dreams for their children as I, they now struggle with the fact that one day, almost overnight in some cases, their children are different.  Their behaviors shifted from socially communicative to exhibiting delayed speech, awkward mannerisms and lack of interest in others and no eye contact even with their own mother. 

These parents must not only deal with the issues around raising a child they don’t always understand, they must also be an advocate for their child and deal with the prejudices and ignorance of others.  A general lack of understanding of this complex disorder causes some people to discriminate and often unintentionally be hurtful with their words and reactions.

So with the intent on “Making a Difference, and with the help of my brother-in-law Mike who is an avid distance runner, we founded the Carbon Valley Half Marathon for Autism in 2013!  We are quickly approaching our May 11th, 7th annual event.  With already more than $100,000 raised for Autism research at Children’s Hospital Colorado, we hope to add another $25,000 this year.

Kathy Caprino, a senior contributor at Forbes, writes about 9 Core Behaviors Of People Who Positively Impact The World.  As I read it, I particularly resonated with behavior number four - They invest time and energy not in what is, but what can be.  She shares, “The people I’ve interacted with and interviewed who’ve made a positive impact in the world don’t settle for conformity.  When they see something that agitates and disturbs them, they strive to know more, get to the root of the issue, research and understand the contributing factors, and arrive at new solutions.  They observe gaps and mistakes in common thinking and behavior, and trust themselves in their belief that it’s time to push the boundaries of what’s accepted.   They want to affect change because they believe change will bring a better way to live."

I believe we are doing with the Carbon Valley Half Marathon and 5K. 

Our mission is to support Autism Research through a family running event showcasing spectacular views of the Rockies.  We bring our community together to continue to educate and improve lives that are affected by Autism.  Our goal is to raise significant funds each year to benefit Colorado Children’s Hospital Autism Research with returning participants and new faces each event.

We are making strides to embrace autism and we invite you to join us on May 11th!  Run, walk, or donate!  You can get all kinds of information and even register on our website.   

There are countless ways that you can “Make a Difference” in this journey we all call LIFE.  Find something that turns you on, lights you up… or pisses you off!  Go out there and DO SOMETHING about it!  Not only will you improve the lives of others by giving back, I can promise you, it will improve the quality and satisfaction of your own life as well. 

If you are inspired to make something happen, I would love to chat with you about it.  Connect with me!

 Brenda Ridgley www.brendaridgley.com

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