Adventure, fun and purpose. Those are the things that visiting the small school in Good News Bay brought to my life. The chance to visit a rural community, fly over the uncharted land scape of Alaska and introduce myself to a classroom. A classroom of champions, to see a truly authentic love of life and to see for myself, shining faces of hope. Showing that, it too is possible for these champions to see the world, achieve wonders and find success where they had only dreamed. Seeing the fun, and the constant love of life, reminded me of my child hood, growing up in rural Alaska. It reminded me of a different way of life, a way that most don’t see, most don’t understand. Seeing this, in the shining faces filled with love, filled with fun. Reminded me the importance of life in a rural community, the hard work these children are faced with daily. The culture thriving in the outdoors. Surrounded by a lifestyle that has only recently been impacted by modern culture and society.
The beauty of it is, this little adventure helps me to feel the true importance of what I am doing with classroom champions. To see children in a culture that can’t hardly imagine a world outside of Alaska. Where visiting the big city of Anchorage was the dream most of these children sought to have. But I could see their entire perspective change in an instant. That they saw the face of a human in front of them, no different than who they were. An Alaskan with a medal they could hardly imagine but more importantly a perspective, to help them pursue larger things in life. I saw smiles that shined brighter than gold, and countless children looking up to me.
If I was to put the feeling into one word, it would be purpose. These kids give purpose to myself as an athlete, to be the example. They give purpose to a foundation that gives me an opportunity to make this difference. To know I impacted these children, that they saw me as a fellow Alaskan, looked up to me and realized there’s so much more out there. But most importantly, that they too could be a part of it. That they too could make a difference and grow beyond their limits and the limits of their small town. That their goals, can be bigger than they had ever thought imaginable, that their community can be made greater because of them. Or that, they can be the athlete or a mentor with purpose also. But the thing that touches my heart, is that I’m able to help them realize that.
Andrew Kurka, Paralympian and Classroom Champions Athlete Mentor