Connecting with a Cause

By CarrieBarrett – December 30, 2011

Colin’s Hope: Drowning Prevention

In May 2010, I had surgery to repair an injury; thankfully, I was allowed to swim after a few weeks. While in physical therapy, I learned of a four-mile open water swim in Lake Austin benefiting the local charity Colin’s Hope. The Holst family in Austin started Colin’s Hope ( in 2008 after their four-year-old son drowned. Their mission is to raise water safety awareness and prevent childhood drowning. Drowning is the number one cause of accidental death for children under four and the number two cause for children ages 1-14. Under the guidance of volunteer Alissa Magrum (now Executive Director), that Inaugural Got2Swim 4 Colin’s Hope raised almost $20,000. All involved vowed to make the event bigger and better.

This September, 43 swimmers hopped in Lake Austin, some to swim four miles, others eight miles, to commemorate what would’ve been Colin’s eighth birthday, raising nearly $60,000. To prepare for the event, swimmers and water guardians received basic training plans, nutritional guidance, and invitations to group swims each weekend. They also completed CPR and Water Safety Certification courses at The Expedition School. While this event will be kept small for safety reasons, future Got2Swim 4 Colin’s Hope events may expand to include destination swims and larger-scale open water swim events.

Colin’s Hope isn’t just about swimming; it’s about promoting water safety. The organization shares simple water safety tips in a variety of ways: through school and community events, through the Colin’s Hope kids’ triathlon, on the Colin’s Hope website, and a variety of media campaigns. For information on Colin’s Hope and to learn how you can help prevent drowning, go to

Few charity events match the magnitude and dedication of the annual BP MS 150 bike ride from Houston to Austin. More than 15,000 cyclists ride and camp together with the mission of eradicating multiple sclerosis. The two-day, 180-mile ride is the largest of its kind in North America and, in 2011, raised more than $16 million. I’ve had the joy and honor of training for and participating in this event on several occasions, representing friends who suffer from the debilitating effects of this disease.

Before you embark on this journey, it’s important to know your reason for riding. A personal connection to your cause, such as a family member or loved one with the disease, will go far towards inspiring you during the long training weekends. Also, join a team (or create your own) for support. Visit your local bike shop to find out about clinics or group training rides, and have a professional look at your bike fit. You definitely want to be as comfortable as possible for this two-day journey on two wheels. Training should start at the beginning of the year and long ride distances will increase throughout the spring. Plan on doing at least one ride of 80-90 miles prior to the event date, April 21-22, 2012.

Not only does the MS 150 raise millions of dollars, it also encourages health, fitness, community, advocacy, and camaraderie—the true gift of philanthropy. To learn more about recommended rides, bicycle safety clinics, and to see a list of existing teams, go to the official website at for more information.

Carrie Barrett is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. Her articles have appeared on, Inside Texas Running, and the recent triathlon anthology, “The Meaning of Tri.” Barrett is a member of Erin Baker’s National Triathlon Team and co-host of “The Health and Fitness Hour” Radio Program at


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