Meet Keala Boncie Machin of Glenville, NY. She’s 6 years old, the only girl of 4 children, and in school, she’s quiet, not a fan of noise and commotion and is prone to bouts of shyness. Teachers will tell her parents that often she will sit in the corner of the class, coloring in books and keeping herself to herself. It could be argued she is your typical all-American little girl.
One day, she came home with a permission slip for a school talent show, expressing an interest in taking part. Surprised, her parents asked her what she wanted to perform, knowing that singing or dancing wouldn’t be something she would be at all interested in. She wanted to show her school what Spartan Race was all about. Her mother pointed out that dumping a truckload of mud in the school would not please the principal, so she decided that her act would be that of a Spartan Race workout she would design herself. Keala is a Spartan Racer.
The back story of this started when she witnessed her folks take part in an OCR that didn’t have a race for children. Her eyes widened and she knew that’s what she wanted to do. Her mother Rayn explains, “The first time she ran, it was as though she was born. Though she enjoys dressing up and wearing glitter, Keala does not fit into any sort of typology, but instead, finds comfort in areas which allow her to be herself. Though it would be easier for her to fit into a mold, Spartan Race is who she is, and who she is is beautiful.”
And so Keala embraced the lifestyle and threw herself into what the Spartan Race ideology is, she found a new kind of happiness. Not only does she do burpees alongside her mother, but helps out with her non-profit as Rayn explains, “I run a non-profit for children that have experienced extensive abuse and/or neglect, and those in at-risk situations. Spartan Race donates their entry fee so that we may teach these children that what they have endured, does not define who we are. It had not occurred to me that the same run may work with non-abused children, who may not fit into stereotypical demands, but may instead, flourish in situations not typical of their classmates”.
And Keala is a part of that. Rayn continues, “due to the economic downturn, Keala has, per her own desire, spent her out of school hours, helping children in emergency situations. She has given up her racing “career” (for a month or two), until we can raise money to get them to a Spartan Race.”
And it’s all too evident when you see Keala when she is at her happiest – working out – that Spartan Race is a very important part of her life. When asked what Spartan Race has done for her, she points out, “They helped me….like cheering…they gave us a medal….Momma cheered, Dada took pictures…the other people say yay…they are nice…they are kind. I was happy in school and it was a great time, but everyone is loud. Everybody is really noisy they are just all loud. They always be like that, there is a lot of talking. I am the only one who is quiet. I am not shy at Spartan Race”.
And why is this? “Because the people are nice…they smile….they like me for me, and I like them.”
What do you worry about in school? “Sometimes I am kind of like bad at coloring and my class is a loud class….at Spartan Race, they have nice people….they like me even if I can’t color good….”
Why do you do this? “Cause it’s fun…they keep cheering at all the people…they give people high fives”
Is there any one person you remember from a Spartan Race? “Kim (McDonald; she was a volunteer at Tuxedo). She is kind. She gave us medals. They are cool. She likes kids. I like her.”
And so on the day of the talent show, Keala did exactly what she wanted to do. Something she would be comfortable with. Rayn smiles, “She performed without pretending she isn’t comfortable. She did exactly what she wanted to and knew that no matter what her classmates said, Spartan Race and its athletes would be behind her”.
Since they had been learning about the environment in school, she decided to do a Spartan Green Workout, using only items that were already around the house. A school bus tire that was used as a swing was recycled , a length of 2×4 from a building project was utilised and a piece of wood that had been cut from a stump would be used for flipping.
Letting her younger brother introduce what she was about to do, she prepared, came out and being careful not to scratch the auditorium stage, Keala went through her workout to a stunned audience of open-mouthed teachers and students.
Pausing only to take a bow, Keala bounced off the stage to cheers and applause.
When asked how Spartan Races and training makes her feel, see briefly ponders, “Well…it was fun to go in the mud”, then smiling cheekily, “and I do burpees better than Mom”.
Want to see how your kids will do at a Spartan Race? Sign them up now.
See you at the finish line…