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Win4Youth is an Adecco Group initiative to unite people through sport while simultaneously raising money for youth charities around the world. Running since 2010, it is a once in a lifetime experience. The intangible benefit is the life-long accomplishment that every participant carries and each Win4Youth ambassador has a different story.
Although the campaign runs year-round and allows every colleague, associate and client to take part, each year, around 70 ambassadors are selected, across countries and brands to come together and participate in a triathlon. The event itself is a physical challenge but combined with the mental efforts required to train, to prepare and to overcome personal obstacles means these colleagues push themselves beyond limits anyone ever thought they had. Beyond this is the far-reaching impact each athlete has on raising money for the youth charities that Win4Youth supports.
Today, we celebrate some of the female Win4youth ambassadors that have experienced this event and learn how the experience has impacted their lives and their careers. Each has a different story and experience, but all agree that once an ambassador, always an ambassador. Here are their stories:
Rachel Maurer Account Director at Pontoon, Toldeo, Ohio
I have been involved with W4Y for 10 + years and prior to competing, I had the opportunity to speak to past Ambassadors multiple times. Their stories were something I wanted to experience first-hand! Call it jealousy but it piqued my interest and I was already on the way to making 2019 a slight year of change for me, this was the icing on the cake
Pamela Wilson VP Regional Enterprise Onsite at Adecco North America, Memphis, Tennessee
My leader convinced me that it was something I should try. Without that push and encouragement, I would have never signed up.
Hannah Stirrett Global Strategy Manager, at Pontoon, London, England
A colleague had participated the year before and said it was the best thing he had ever done. He sat on my shoulder making sure I pressed send on the application form because I was so reticent!
Joyce Bijl Regional Development Head at Pontoon, Dubai, UAE
Before 2016, I was 95 kilos’ and you imagine what it felt like for me, seeing my colleagues participating in W4Y events… and even though we only did relatively easy walks/rides in Hong Kong, it was not something I was looking forward to … It made me aware of the unhealthy lifestyle I was leading. I wanted to make a change. Win4youth has been a key contributor to my motivation. Win4youth made me aware of how important a healthy lifestyle is and of course, for years I wanted to make a change and to look forward to being part of those activities. Being part of these activities and at the same time helping young people around the globe made me love the program even more.
Rachel Maurer: Training was hard, I’m not going to lie. I have two small children (2 and 4). On top of working full time, having a family and life, in general, I needed to adjust my schedule greatly to make it all work. Thankfully I have a husband who supported my aspiration and we made it work. I did not get up one time to work out before work, I am not a morning person!! I was told you would have to at some point but I mainly worked out over lunch, in the evenings and on weekends. Overall the program is set up for each person to succeed, it is amazing the high level of support and detail that comes from the Energy Lab and the W4Y Coordinators and Team.
I still think of the actual day of the event often. It was such an amazing experience to be in another country with 70+ of your new friends who are just as nervous and scared as you. We all knew it would be hard and had the physical and mental training to fall back on. We were all like little kids on Christmas morning, all nerves! We all heard the gun go off and we ran into the water, mass confusion but I never felt alone. I had my family on my mind and my W4Y team standing next to me. On the bike and run courses, we cheered each other on and gave high fives.
Pamela Wilson: The coaches were amazing and my team at home really kept me on track. The training was hard and not just physically. I had to grow as a professional and make changes in my personal life to keep everything together. There was a lot of forced positive change during the program that I’m ultimately very grateful to have received. Now that I’ve been through the program, I absolutely love to watch the new ambassadors embark on their journeys since I know how special of an experience it really is.
Hannah Stirrett: When I left for the training camp my daughter was 9 months old and I was recovering from post-natal depression. I was nervous to go and spend 5 days with a group of people I had never met, but excited to do something as an individual, not as a mum or a wife. I never looked back. The training was tough, just before leaving for Majorca for the triathlon I was training 12 hours a week, but it pushed me outside of my comfort zone in a brilliant way. I made some great friends from all over the world, some who would become future colleagues, and we will forever be bound by the experience and by the camaraderie.
Joyce Bijl: Participating in this program was the best experience I had within the Adecco Group, not only being the ambassador but also the opportunity to share my personal story and hopefully I was able to motivate more people. After my personal win4youth story in 2016 – it didn’t stop there!
In 2017, I had the opportunity to move for Adecco to the middle East. A part of the world that didn’t live a breath of Win4Youth yet. However, at the end of the year, we did turn this around and we won the 3rd prize as the country, with the highest growth in kilometres collected.
In 2016, during the Win4Youth main event in Lanzarote, I promised myself that one day I would go back to Lanzarote to complete the full ironman. So, I started to train, I had earlier that year already over 6000 km of training kilometres, to get myself ready and to contribute to the Win4Youth program. I managed to finish in May 2018 the full distance in Lanzarote, you can’t imagine all the feelings that go through your head. The happiness, the pride and the confidence that you are able to do so much more if you get your head around it.
After this Ironman I did struggle with the recovery and then…. Something I never would imagine, during a routine checkup my worst nightmare happened. I got diagnosed with cancer. The last months of 2018 were rough.
After a major surgery, and three times admitted in hospital and countless visits to doctors, I closed 2018. In January 2019 I got to hear that all was clean again and started to train slowly. Where I used to train easy a couple of hours in a row, 20 minutes on the bike, was very tough. The road to recovery had started.
Throughout my previous journey, I have learned to push myself with very clear objectives.
Rachel Maurer: It means you stand up for yourself and promote the same for others. We put in the time and energy to be healthy, as a reward my employer makes a financial donation to Plan International; it does not get any better than that! I am lucky enough to be an Alumni Ambassador and will always work hard for W4Y.
Pamela Wilson: Honestly and simply, it makes me feel good as a person. There’s an expectation that as an ambassador we set positive healthy examples for our friends, community and co-workers. We also are promoting great causes and helping people all over the world.
Hannah Stirrett: I still feel really proud 6 years on and I feel a responsibility to keep talking about it, persuading people to apply and sharing my experience. Is this something I would have had the opportunity to take part in had I not been part of The Adecco Group? Absolutely not. It is extremely special.
Joyce Bijl: The first word that comes across my mind is; Proud. Proud to work for an organization that stimulate employees to have a healthy lifestyle and at the same time do something incredibly good to support our own foundation. Once an Ambassador, always an ambassador!
Rachel Maurer: DO IT! Do not wait, do not hesitate. I cannot put into words more not to wait. I would sign up again in a second!
Pam Wilson: Buckle up. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s totally going to be worth it.
Hannah Stirrett: I tell everyone to enter. And the response is always “I’m not a swimmer” or “I can’t really cycle” but it doesn’t matter. There will always be someone who can run faster, swim harder or cycle farther but it’s not about them, it’s about you and realizing what you are capable of. W4Y really brought home the brilliance of our organisation and what a great colleague community we have.
Joyce Bijl: As mentioned the proud feeling I ever have since I finished my first triathlon through win4youth, will always stay with me! It’s a journey, personally but also with your colleagues to work for a common goal. Engage your colleagues and give back to the community! This last couple of months has been though but also inspired me to try it once more. We sometimes take our body for granted and it will give us a strong message. It will be small steps, and I made the decision to follow my dreams again. And I would like to run the stairs again with many, many colleagues! Step by step we can all get there! As they say the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory, cancer maybe took away temporary my physical abilities, it cannot touch my mind, my heart and my soul!
For more information on Win4Youth, visit: https://www.win4youth.com/