Life is a constant adventure for professional IRONMAN athlete Jessie Donavan. Whether training for a race, caring for her family or raising awareness for World Bicycle Relief, Jessie is always on the go.
For Jessie, balancing family with training is a priority, and she involves her children whenever possible. They often ride alongside her on her recovery runs or swim alongside her. As a professional athlete and adventurer, long, hard training sessions are the norm. She schedules training during the day so she can be with her kids in the morning and pick them up after school.
The last four years have been a whirlwind adventure of racing around the world, three IRONMAN wins and numerous other podiums. I have always tried to involve the kids as much as possible, having them join me in training when it works and bringing them to races as much as our finances allowed. My IRONMAN journey has truly been a family endeavor.
Jessie loves a challenge! Before starting their family, she and husband Peter hiked the 2,000-mile Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia – something she says they did on a whim. This season, she’s planning her first long distance trail race and has dreams of setting the speed record on Vermont’s Long Trail, a 272-mile trek that runs the length of the state.
This active mom has instilled the love of outdoors and activity in her children. Her drive and determination inspire her family. When Jessie’s son Griffin was only 9, he committed to riding his bike to school every day in December in support of WBR, in spite of the difficult Vermont winter weather. Jessie, although a bit concerned, supported Griffin and knew he could do it. That single month turned into riding every day that year, raising more than $3,000. Fast-forward to 2016, where Griffin, now 13, hopes to raise more than $15,000 for WBR.
Jessie’s life is already full of family and training, but she is paying forward the joy she and her family feel when riding a bike. She and Griffin are the first mother-son Team WBR Ambassadors. Together, they are helping to create the life-changing revolution that a bicycle can provide for a student, healthcare worker or entrepreneur in developing countries.
WBR is empowering communities and changing children’s lives. There is the practical side that allows so many children to get back and forth to school, but WBR is providing a bicycle to children, which I believe adds a sense of freedom, fun and pure joy to their lives as well.
As Team WBR ambassadors, Jessie and Griffin will spread the word about WBR, raising funds and awareness at schools, during races and at local farmer’s markets. They even plan to set up a lemonade stand at the end of their driveway for passing cyclists.
I see my children’s happiness and sense of independence they have when they ride their bikes to school. They arrive flushed in the face, empowered, satisfied and ready to learn. I love the connection that has developed in our household with our bicycle commute to school and children half way around the world in Africa. I imagine them laughing, playful and experiencing the same joy that comes with being on a bike.