It’s a Friday Feature! Katie Caniglia, long-time donor, supporter, volunteer, and friend of The Foundation For Tomorrow discusses the creation and collaboration of TeamTFFT, and joining her passion with our mission in service through sport for all.

How you find your way to push past your perceived limits and pursue ways to be impactful starts with WHY. WHY you pursue something is far more important than what or how and where you pursue it. Motivation doesn’t exist without reason. Without WHY. You can’t go anywhere without it.

Seeking what ignites a spark in you, rather than what you’re good at, comfortable with, or qualified for has been my game changer. Though not always an easy or well-defined approach, it has been a key component of my WHY, yielding sacred moments that have surpassed my wildest dreams – into jungles and deserts, across oceans, to the tops of mountains and to the depths of heart-wrenching disaster areas. Inequality, injustice, people in need, all ignite a spark in me. A good physical challenge (of any sort) ignites a spark in me. Learning ignites a spark in me. Combine all of that with a competitive nature and desire to serve and will you not only understand who I am, but also have the foundation for my newest role in support of TFFT.

There is a longer story to detail how I first connected with The Foundation For Tomorrow, but it can be simplified to these short yet significant phrases – I accepted an invitation. I wanted to learn more.

At 31 years old, I knew little about the world of endurance sports and nothing about triathlons, but I believed the process of learning by doing would be good for me and could do good for others. I allowed myself two years to train for and finish all four triathlon distances (sprint, Olympic, Half-iron and Full-iron). July of 2012, in Lake Placid NY, I crossed the finish line of my first Ironman and raised just over $4,000 for the global hunger relief organization, Stop Hunger Now (now Rise Against Hunger). I felt accomplished but not finished.

The combination of endurance sports and fundraising for people in need was electric. It was motivating and more rewarding than I anticipated. However, the fundraising tools available to me were limited and limiting. In search of a better solution, a way to empower people taking on challenges to do good for those in need without limitations, I decided to take what I learned and create ITRIFORGOOD (ITFG). WHY I wanted to push forward propelled me to figure out HOW to push forward.

I created an online fundraising platform to be a force multiplier for good. A platform that facilitated a meaningful new relationship between powerful communities – the endurance world, deserving non-profits, and the support networks of both. The entire development was personally funded and allowed us to strip away fees for the fundraiser so that every non-profit received 100% of the donations raised on their behalf. Everyone was welcome. Athletes (all ages and abilities) chose their event and their charity or NPO. It was incredibly personal. There wasn’t anything like it.

If you ran the numbers to calculate ITFG’s impact (number of athletes, organizations supported, dollars raised), you would miss the truest measurement of our success. ITFG found strength in the pursuit of quality over quantity. Our success was in knowing the story of every athlete and helping share the circumstances that motivated each of them to race with reason (their WHY). These intangibles – these things you can’t easily quantify were the very heart of ITFG’s mission.

As good as this was, it wasn’t scalable or sustainable in the long term exactly as it was designed. To stand out or even just to find footing in the increasingly crowded space of online fundraising platforms, ITFG would require a significant infusion of capital and a larger team with an expanded skillset. It would take time to realize that more options existed for ITFG besides expanding or closing. While driving back to Arusha from Pangani in 2016 after my second RIDETZ, the path forward for ITFG and service through sport came into focus.

Meghann, a life-long runner, had been using sport as part of her equation too. Aside from her responsibilities as TFFT’s Executive Director, every year Meghann accepts the challenge of running the Kilimanjaro Half Marathon and raising awareness and funds for TFFT. She even convinced me to join her in 2013 despite the fact that I do not share her love of running.

RIDETZ furthered my appreciation for Meghann and TFFT’s roots of service through sport. There was opportunity here beyond ITFG’s partnership with TFFT as a fundraising platform and my family’s personal support for TFFT. Though the decisions to close ITFG and build Team TFFT were mutually exclusive, the connectedness of the two already existed and the opportunity for one to transform the other was real.

The heart of ITFG, along with the platform’s capabilities and technology, could surpass the lifespan of the organization for which it was created. TFFT had already created space for service through sport and found great energy and support within their communities around the concept. Once again, and not surprisingly, Meghann (& Kaitlin), welcomed new ideas and energy to the table in service to their mission. With constant development help from my trusted friends at WebStation and many emails, conversations and phone calls later, Team TFFT started to take shape.

Today, Team TFFT is a platform. It’s also a program and a growing community of individuals and groups who choose to turn their energy into opportunity. Team TFFT is service through sport. We believe in pushing outside your comfort zone and past perceived physical boundaries in pursuit of something greater than oneself, by supporting the life changing educational programs and initiatives of The Foundation For Tomorrow.

To play a role in helping TFFT fulfill their mission, in a unique way that is meaningful and speaks to my heart, is an invaluable gift. I love the ability to know athletes, hear their stories, learn about the challenges that speak to them and support their efforts of service through sport. For those who join us in Tanzania for one of our Key Events, it’s especially exhilarating. Being present in Tanzania to witness TFFT’s work firsthand and experience the culture, land, and people adds layers of perspective and impact.

Making an impact, however, is not limited to those who physically go. One of the greatest aspects of Team TFFT is accessibility. Team TFFT provides opportunity for a growing network of doers, door-openers and donors to work together whether that happens at home or from as far away as East Africa.

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