Get to know Mina Nakano, longtime Dare2tri volunteer and disability rights advocate, as she provides answers for the Q&A below:
1. What is your story/background?
Seven years ago, I met and started working with Tekki Lomnicki, a legendary award winning writer and artistic director of a mixed ability theater company called Tellin’ Tales Theatre. Tekki, who is about to launch her story writing workshop with Lurie Childrens’ Hospital and war veteran,s has well prepared me to enter the world of Dare2tri. Today, I am a full fledged disability rights advocate and activist, and I am very excited to be involved with both organizations.
2. What is your specific involvement with dare2tri?
I am a volunteer. Our whole family volunteers with dare2tri. My son TJ (15) is a guide, my husband, a photographer, and I do anything I can do from being a handler, guide, and fundraiser. Being involved with dare2tri has made our very close family even closer.
3. How long have you been involved with dare2tri?
Since 2011. My son TJ met Dare2tri’s elite youth athlete, Aaron Holzmueller when they performed together in Tekki’s middle school students mentoring program called “Six Stories & Up” in summer of 2011. Aaron invited TJ to become his guide, which ignited our whole family’s involvement with Dare2tri.
4. Why did you get involved with dare2tri?
It was love at first sight. I knew right away I wanted to be a part of this amazing group. I love everyone I meet through Dare2tri, from athletes, coaches, tech support people, to families. I am blown away by the elite athletes, but I am equally in awe of every athlete who is “tri-ing.” Witnessing so many beginners achieving the elite level performance in just a few seasons is absolutely phenomenal!
5. Is there a specific moment while with dare2tri that sticks out in your mind? If so what is it?
Pleasant Prairie (Training) camp in June of 2013. As one of the athletes crossed the finish line, a woman bursted into tears and started walking toward a quiet place by herself. Another volunteer, a wonderful woman whom I just met that day, looked at me and said, “Shall we?” We both ran up to the woman and said “Would you like a hug?” She nodded, and after accepting our hugs, she said “My husband has not exercised since he lost his legs to diabetes years ago. This is a miracle!!!”
6. What would you like others to know about dare2tri?
You will learn to live fully in the present when you are with Dare2tri. No matter what kind of a day you are having, once you come to train or volunteer with them you will experience a shift in your attitude and begin to focus on what really matter in your life, while receiving outpouring support from everyone.
7. What does dare2tri mean to you?
Dare2tri is quickly becoming my extended family, which means I am committed to do my best to take care of my family members. But more importantly, I am learning to love and take care of myself. I’m from Japan, where my family held onto a very traditional way of life. My mother always made great sacrifices for everyone without asking help for her needs. It took a toll on her in the end, because life in Japan became very modern, and fast paced. Para-athletes are my heroes because they have showed me how to ask for help with dignity.
8. Is there anything else you would like to share?
I feel very blessed to be a part of Dare2tri and to live in this amazing city in the most amazing country. And I look forward to upcoming races and events including Rio in 2016!