On Oct. 9, Patty Sanders will swim, bike and run alongside hundreds of other triathletes in the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii.
And while making it to and completing the world championship are feats in their own right, Sanders will be focusing on another goal during the triathlon: feeding hungry kids.
Sanders is the Hunger Action Enabler for the Presbytery of the Redwoods. She's also a triathlete and has been competing since 2003. When she found out she was going to the Ironman World Championship — the biggest competition in the sport — she spoke with the Rev. Robert Conover, stated clerk of the presbytery. Conover is also a triathlete and he encouraged Sanders to incorporate a fundraiser into the race.
Sanders thought about what she wanted to do for a fundraiser, and the answer came to her: "Feed hungry children."
Sanders is raising money to be split between two programs: Peanut Butter for Kids, through the presbytery; and Seeds for Haiti, through the Presbyterian Hunger Program's Joining Hands program. Peanut Butter for Kids is a local project, while Seeds for Haiti partners with a Haitian network for farmers. Including a local and an international program was important for Sanders, who wants to raise awareness about hunger in and outside the United States.
As of the end of July, Sanders had raised more than $700, but hopes to raise $5,000 by Oct. 9. She's networking at other races and at local businesses, and is also getting the word out to presbyteries. The hunger program also has a donation link on its webpage.
Ruth Farrell, coordinator of the hunger program, said she’s noticed a new movement in which a lot of young people are incorporating their own hobbies and passions into working to end hunger. She remembered a youth who shot baskets to raise money to feed the hungry in Sudan.
And while Sanders isn’t a youth — she turned 60 this year — she encouraged people of all ages to take action in different areas.
"You're never too old to try, whether it’s a triathlon or whatever," she said.
Sanders said that having a goal in mind will help her keep going during the Ironman.
"A lot of being an Ironman is mental," Sanders said. "I always think of my family and my friends. I'll be definitely thinking along the way about feeding hungry kids."
Sanders will race with a sign about the fundraiser on her outfit, and her supporters will wear matching T-shirts as she swims 2.4 miles, bikes 112 miles and runs 26.2 miles.
These reminders will keep her moving forward, Sanders said. She'll be thinking about the need to live up to donors' expectations — and about the fact that just one dollar buys enough peanut butter for five sandwiches.
"I definitely will be thinking and praying and calculating how many jars of peanut butter I'll be able to give," she said.