Triathalon for children with cancer – one Barranquillero’s plight.

Tony Varela with kids from the Andrea and Vanessa Foundation

There is nothing more rewarding than dedicating your effort for a cause like this.

Running and fundraising has never been more popular in Barranquilla. Lately, it seems that everyone (and their dog) is running a fun run, half, or full marathon. But beyond the enjoyable moments, there are extraordinary stories of motivation. There are people who truly experience how hard it is to finish a race. These are people who know that you need to focus on a goal and build yourself up to have a shot at finishing what you’ve started.

You need something that will keep you going when you start feeling like giving up could be the best option.

For Tony Varela, it’s the thought of his brother. Tony took the time to answer a few questions for Barranquilla Life. He shared his story of motivation, a story that has now become greater than him, and about how he wants to inspire others to dedicate their efforts to a greater cause.

Barranquilla Life: Who is Tony Varela?

I am 33 years old, father of two little princesses, Simone and Samay, and husband of Naty. I`ve always been passionate about sports and mountains; I discovered triathlon about 1,5 years ago. I run an online travel agency and love to be outside in nature with my family.

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BLife: How did you come up with the idea of competing for a cause?

My youngest brother Alex died about eight months ago due to brain cancer; he had been fighting for almost four years. On October 13th, 2013 my Mom decided to run a half marathon in Munich to support him. It was our first #Run4Alex and proved a great joy and motivation for her. That #Run4Alex resulted in a triathlon after my brother Andy started competing on the Ironman course. Our plan for this year, 2016, is to finish the Ironman 140.6 in Frankfurt with Alex encouraging us. He’s not with us anymore, but #TriathlonAgainstCancer is in his honor and is dedicated to those children who are fighting cancer every day of their life.

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BLife: Tell us about the children you’re supporting. How did you find out about them?

When I decided to run this campaign I wanted it to be for children fighting cancer. Friends told me about the Andrea and Vanessa Foundation and the home they run for children with cancer. I went and met the kids and all the people working there. It’s a big family! All of the kids come from different towns along the Colombian Caribbean Coast and are sent to hospitals in Barranquilla, the main city in the area. As their families lack financial resources, some of them are forced to abandon the cancer treatment because they cannot pay transportation, lodging, and food. Others can’t even start.  The foundation in Barranquilla gives these wonderful children everything they and their families need during treatment in the city.

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BLife: Don’t they have SISBEN or Health Care?

They do, and that usually covers the treatment, I mean the medical part. But the families aren’t from Barranquilla and don’t have the resources to move to the city and pay the cost of living here during their treatment. If it weren’t for the Andrea and Vanessa Foundation, most of them wouldn’t even get the chance to start the treatment.

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BLife: How far do you think your contribution will help them?

Lots. The Foundation is always struggling to cover their costs. They have psychologists, nurses, drivers and other personnel they have to pay. The food and transportation are given to kids and their family for free. Plus, the Foundation has to pay monthly rent for the house, so they are also looking for ways to save money and buy it. The more money they raise, the more kids they can host.

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BLife: Tony, how much do you expect to raise for the kids and how can we help?

Our goal is to raise $10.000 euros, and you can support the cause by going here. On July 3rd, 2016, I will be racing in the Ironman 140.6 in Frankfurt, Germany; a long distance triathlon consisting of swimming 3.8km, followed by 180km time trial bicycling and ending with 42,2km of running. It will be my #MyChallengeForACause, and I will dedicate it to The Andrea and Vanessa Foundation – Home for Children with Cancer.

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BLife: What would you say to other Barranquilleros about doing sports for a cause?

There is nothing more rewarding than dedicating your effort for a cause like this. It teaches you to value life. While you challenge your physical limits, you can make a contribution to those who must concentrate on saving the lives of their children.