I (Chris Lieto) had the privilege of being invited to race in the inaugural Laguna Lang Co Vietnam Triathlon last month. I have raced at the Laguna Phuket Triathlon for the last couple of years and I was amazed at the organization of all their races. When I heard that they were hosting a race in Vietnam, I knew it was a race I wanted to be a part of. Not only because of the quality of the team and execution of events, but because of their commitment to give back to the community wherever their races were located. Just as we had done in the Laguna Phuket race, More Than Sport and myself partnered with Laguna and the Banyan Tree resort to do a community giveback during the race. We sought out what the greater needs were in the community where the race was being held, and in this case it was 5 schools that were spread out in different areas of the bike course. These 5 schools did not have a clean water source. Because of this, many kids would become sick on a regular basis and many had been battling parasites. If the kids couldn't bring clean water with them to school, they were forced not to drink any water at all. This can become a bigger issue and essentially cause a ripple effect. It starts as no drinking water and illness which then effects their inability to get the education they need to get jobs or even the ability to finish school.
We decided in partnership with Laguna Lang Co to raise awareness of this need for clean water and raise money with the goal to fund sanitation systems and filtration systems for all the schools. With the support of many of the athletes racing and athletes that were unable to race but believed in the cause of More than Sport, we raised enough money to fund all 5 schools. While we were there a couple days before the race, a group of about 30 of us had the opportunity to go to one of the schools and visit close to 400 kids that attended. The filtration system was put in earlier that week and we were able to see it in full use. We also took the opportunity to build relationships with the students and play games with them that were all focused on educating them on sanitation practices. They were never taught simple tasks that we take for granted. From washing their hands and brushing their teeth, to washing their clothes. We had a blast interacting with the kids and seeing the hope that was returned to them. What they saw were foreigners taking the time to come and pour love into them for the day, but little did they realized the scale of what this filtration would do for them.
Not only is our mission of More Than Sport to help the tangible needs of the areas and people in these communities but it is to really build relationships and give hope back to them and their community. Sometimes the little things go a long way. With Laguna Lang Co's commitment to continue to teach sanitation practices with these schools and maintain the function and upkeep of these systems for years to come, we know this is a project that will have a lasting impact.
We look forward to returning year after year as we do at Laguna Phuket to keep investing into the community and see the growth as well as see the family continue to grow in the communities of these countries and also the communities of athletes that compete at these events every year.
Come join us at one of our events in the next year or choose to race for More Than Sport Global Initiative at your next local race. We look forward to continue growing this family and movement for what we see as the power of sport in a meaningful way.