Brandon Soelberg is a fourth year LLU School of Dentistry student who treats his doctor of dental surgery training as preparation for an oral and facial surgery residency. He is simultaneously training for the November 15, 2015, Arizona IRONMAN competition in Tempe—2.4-mile open water swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run.
Since 2009, Brandon has run several full marathons, and a number of half marathons and five-mile races in Utah and California. But now (August 2015) he writes on his personal blog entitled, “All Together Now,” at empower.org, “I will officially be spending this year training to become an IRONMAN, through which I will be raising funds for a foundation to help give children around the world not only new smiles, but a second chance at life.”
“Many of my prior races have been linked to charities,” Brandon continues, “and with the exponentially greater mental and physical taxation this [Ironman] event requires, I hope to use it as an opportunity to serve others through a children’s cleft lip and palate charity: Smile Train.”
Smile Train is an international children’s charity dedicated to a single, solvable problem: cleft lip and palate. Millions of children in developing countries with unrepaired clefts live in shame; but more importantly, they have difficulty eating, breathing, and speaking. The dramatic and immediate improvement in function and appearance enabled by cleft lip/palate repair surgeries is immediate and transforming. Smile Train provides training and funding to empower local doctors in more than 85 developing countries to provide cleft repair surgery for no charge to those communities.
In order to motivate himself (and potential donors), Brandon has registered for a spot in the Tempe, Arizona, race that depends on achieving his donation goal of $5000. “In this way,” Brandon says, “my training efforts throughout this year, coupled with your kind donations, will result in a race day dedicated to blessing the lives of others.”
Brandon’s training amounts to roughly sixteen hours a week (swimming, biking, running), beyond whatever it takes to be a dental student and husband.
IRONMAN Arizona, organizer and producer of this particular November 15 race in Tempe, reserves 100 spots for racers whose commitment and determination will raise money for Smile Train’s charity purposes and retains no money from contributions raised by Smile Train’s IRONMAN racers.
Smile Train’s Team Empower makes it as easy as possible for its race participants. Registered racers receive virtual coaching from its certified coaches, including weekly plans and access to webinars and training tips. Team Empower provides racers a personal fundraising plan and individual websites (for Brandon’s click here) to help them reach their fundraising goals, as well as a reliable, secure web presence where their charitable sponsors can confidently make their donations and follow the sponsored racer’s progress. Smile Train provides its participating athletes race apparel, a race recovery tent, and a race completion award.
Most important to Brandon and Smile Train, the $5,000 minimum for the opportunity to race will provide life changing cleft lip/palate surgery, new, engaging smiles, and a normal life for 20 children.