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CLIF Blog

Jul. 25, 2012
Share Your Epiphany Winners: Part 1
CLIF Bar was born on a bike in 1990 during a 175-mile ride in Northern California on which Clif Bar & Company Founder and Co-CEO Gary Erickson had “the epiphany” that he could make a better tasting energy bar. Two years later the first CLIF Bars hit the market and the company was off and running. This past spring, we celebrated our 20th anniversary by asking people to submit their own epiphanies for the Share Your Epiphany contest. We selected five winners who each awarded $5,000 from us to the nonprofit of their choice in their name.



To help share their inspiring tales, here are three of the five winning epiphanies in their entirety. Tomorrow we’ll share the final two winners. The first three winners include Jennifer Anderson (Wyoming, Rhode Island) donated $2,500 to Rhode Island Disaster Animal Response Team. Katie Hensel (Verona, Wisconsin) donated $5,000 to Tri 4 Schools, and Tim Dixon (Huntsville, Texas) donated $5,000 to Texas High School Mountain Bike League.

Name: Jennifer Anderson

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Tell Us About Your Epiphany

I was volunteering in Rhode Island at the Navy housing to temporarily house Katrina victims that had been flown up from Louisiana and Missouri. I took stock of what I could do to offer more in such times of need and realized that, if well-crafted, I could weave together my veterinary tech experience and Emergency Responder NAD first-aid certificates together with my horse and dog training skills to become a K-9 search and rescue professional. I'd brought one of my dogs over to serve as a therapy pup and calm the transplanted victims’ nerves.

One woman from the 9th Ward candidly told me of neighbors left behind and lost, including a best woman friend who she couldn't find when she was forced to evacuate. She said she knew in her heart that her friend was gone forever – and there hadn't been enough skilled people to search and rescue. She looked at me with liquid brown eyes and said, “It should be you.” I was taken aback but realized she was right. I had the skillset, ability to learn, physical ability and must take this opportunity to weave together and enhance my knowledge and training to become a SAR professional. I set a timeline of 5 years to get a certifiable dog and to train him/her and become a certified SAR K-9 handler team.

What Have You Done Since Your Epiphany?

Since Katrina 10 years ago, I acquired my first SAR dog as an 8-week old puppy and worked hard to meet the metrics required to be a SAR professional (volunteer) and a certified SAR K-9 team under the SUSAR national standards. I now have Toby, who was re-certified in June 2011. His son is my SUSAR and IPWDA Cadaver disaster dog and my newest SAR partner. Ryder is 14-weeks old and a true gem of a SAR dog in the making! I've increased my knowledge of wilderness and trauma first-aid.

I became an accredited K-9 trainer and volunteer hundreds of hours each year in training for search missions and in providing free demonstrations to community groups that include Boy Scouts, elder care facilities, Special Olympics, 4-H Clubs and Big Sisters/Big Brothers. I train them on how to be lost, but found safe and sound, basic animal first-aid, community disaster preparedness and safe community practices.

How Have You Sustained the Spirit of Your Epiphany?

The very nature of weaving together many aspects of one’s life to create a stronger more resilient and interesting life tapestry is very sustainable. When friends and colleagues ask me how I keep everything balanced, I explain that each skill/training /event really self-feeds into each other and strengthens and affirms the respective skills. I also mentor both newer teammates and several students each year to invigorate others and get them as jazzed as I am by search and rescue. Two former students/new teammates have gone on to vet school and emergency care and to join local SAR teams in Arizona (Grand Canyon rescue team). Paying it forward and continuing to improve upon my knowledge and skills is the sustainable way to keep the epiphany going!

Name: Tim Dixon

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Tell Us About Your Epiphany

In the late part of Summer 2011, I was mountain biking with some new friends –Brad and Jenifer Didier – at the Huntsville, Texas State Park. I gave them some CLIF Bloks that I had left over from a ride you sponsored here in Huntsville – The Ravens Revenge. (Giving away free stuff always sparks a conversation.) We talked about a new high school mountain bike league starting in Texas and a group epiphany was born. Why not our high school? Brad is a chemistry teacher at the high School and his wife Jennifer is professor at Sam Houston State College. I am a local business owner with 3 kids in school. We started to put the plan together with help from the new Texas League and NICA. The Huntsville High Mountain Bike Team was born.

What Have You Done Since Your Epiphany?

At first the idea was small and we were hoping for at least 4 or 5 more kids other than my three. It started with Brad and Jennifer getting us licensed with NICA and ordering a book, How to be a High School Mountain Bike Team. Moving things forward to the fall of 2011 we were ready to invite some kids to ride. Twenty or so kids showed up for practice and we had 7 very old bikes and 7 helmets. We received a little local funding from some businesses and talked to our friends for some mountain bikes. We practiced on our own trails that we are building behind the high school teaching the kids that there is more to mountain biking than shredding up the trails. We teach responsibility to the environment, courtesy to others and how to maintain the trails that we have. To say it was a challenge would be an understatement. By the first race we had 11 core riders on our team. At the end of the season we had 13 team members, with 4 of them taking top 5 finishes in the state. Our team that started with no personal bikes, finished third overall at the state championship. The school and city is very excited for us.

How Have You Sustained the Spirit of Your Epiphany?

We are a club team and not sponsored by the school at all. All of our money must be raised to pay for bikes, entry fees, camping and gas to and from the race venues. We are a very proud town and we are mostly blue collar workers. Most of the kids on our team will never be able to go out and buy a $500 bike. We need help from around the city, asking for grants and help from national sponsors like you. The most important part about this whole thing is that we want to get kids off the couch and become healthy. Winning is fun but we all win when we begin to teach our kids about the environment, healthy living, good sportsmanship, kindness to others and, yes, hard work. PS Their favorite is the Strawberry CLIF SHOT BLOKS (caffeine-free).

Name: Katie Hensel

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Tell Us About Your Epiphany

I was interviewing for a new job when I realized that I would rather be doing something I was passionate about instead of taking a similar job with a different company. After a lot of thought, I decided to combine my passions of triathlon, children, and health into a company that put on kids triathlons. However, it didn't feel right to profit off children when I could be giving back to their communities. So, I made the organization a non-profit designed to get kids healthy through triathlons.

What Have You Done Since Your Epiphany?

I started my own non-profit organization called Tri 4 Schools, which puts on youth athletic events in order to teach kids about the benefits of living an active lifestyle. Our races donate 100% of entry fees to school health and fitness programs. In less than a year we have donated $18,000 to schools in our area to teach kids that a healthier future is a brighter future! This has impacted over 100 different schools, and almost 800 kids have participated in our races. By donating the funds to support school health and fitness programs, the money is going even farther by impacting the lives of every child at that school.
Furthermore, we are dedicated to helping low-income families participate by providing scholarships, shoes, and bikes to our kids in need. We even provided free shuttles to the race so kids could get there even if their parents couldn't make it. This has impacted me personally as I went from a six-figure salary to making $0, but loving every second of it. When I wake up in the morning, I'm filled with the hope of making kids healthier and changing their lives by introducing them to multisport and the life skills it can provide.

How Have You Sustained the Spirit of Your Epiphany?

We hope to continue to work with schools to form training programs for our races, and expand the types of multi-sport races we offer to help kids find a sport that works for them. We also want to expand our community outreach to those in need by offering swimming lessons, bike rodeos, and fun runs to help keep kids active year round. As a non-profit, we also need continuous funding to support our events. My job is to keep working on finding grants, sponsors, and donors who believe in what we are doing and will help support our organization.
Posted by:
Dean, the PR Dude
Category:
Contests, Office Life
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About this Blog

We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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