Two years ago when video production artist Will Hyler moved to Phoenix, he decided that he was spending too much time indoors, behind his computer desk. He started running recreationally as a way to discover his new city and get in shape, but, after a few weeks, he was surprised to find that he really enjoyed running — he found it was a great way to clear his head.
Last year, after running in a local marathon, Will decided that he wanted to challenge himself, so he volunteered at IRONMAN® Arizona 2016 to see what a triathlon was like firsthand. After spectating, he felt that with a year of training he’d be up for the challenge.
“When I jumped into the line to sign up for IRONMAN® Arizona 2017 the next morning, I saw some Smile Train representatives walking through the line, talking about joining Team EMPOWER for next year’s race. My wife's cousin had adopted a baby who was born with a cleft, and, when our baby was born, we pledged to make charity a bigger part of our lives — so, I signed up to race for their team.”
The first-time fundraiser set an ambitious fundraising goal of $3,500, and it wasn’t long before he decided to put his video production skills to the test. He created a video to share with his family and friends to tell them about the race, Smile Train, and the momentous fundraising task he has before him.
Will’s video was shared with his friends and family and on Smile Train’s social media accounts. It received such a positive response that he created a second video featuring an animated version of himself and his biggest fans — his wife, son, and two cats.
Will is planning on a third video in the fall where he’ll up the ante by cutting his beard and hair in ridiculous ways to raise funds. Will shared, “I've been growing my hair and beard out for a couple years now and I'm ready to be rid of them both — hopefully some mutton chops and a mohawk will raise some more donations.”
As the date of the triathlon, November 19, draws nearer, Will says, “I am so glad I joined Smile Train Team EMPOWER – as a first-time racer, the coaching and team forums have been invaluable resources. At first, my fundraising goal felt really big, but I've been repeatedly amazed at how eager the people around me are to give to a good cause. It's a group effort, and it's a privilege to play a role.”
If you would like to find out more about Will, or to donate to his efforts, please visit his Smile Train fundraising page. If you are interested in turning miles into smiles, visit our Smile Train Team EMPOWER page to learn more and sign up for a race today — including IRONMAN® Arizona 2017.