Meet the MTeam: David Parada
Meet MTeamer David Parada who completed his first 100 mile cycle in the Best Buddies Challenge with the MTeam in 2018. He signed up the same day for next year!
In our interview below, he also tells us the reason why supporting people with intellectual and developmental opportunities is important to him, talks about how he pushed himself to the finish line of the longest race he's ever cycled, and shares one of his favorite memories as an MTeamer.
MTEAM: When and why did you decide to join the MTeam?
DAVID PARADA: I actually joined the MTeam by chance. I was doing a training ride for the Best Buddies Challenge last year when I was introduced to John (MTeam’s captain). We got to talking and he asked me if I was part of a team. I explained it was my first time doing the Best Buddies Challenge, so I really didn't know anyone. He told me had one slot left open on the MTeam and asked if I wanted to join. He explained who Mer Bear was and that this team is for her and for awareness of FOXG1. I couldn’t be more happy that I agreed to become a part of this community.
MTEAM: Why is the MTeam and the Best Buddies mission important to you?
DP: People with IDD are very close to my heart as I worked as a behavioral specialist for seven years, working closely with children and adults with special needs. The people I worked with became family and brought light into my life. The MTeam and Best Buddies mission aligns with my ideals and I do the ride for those ones that I love. I love how welcoming the team is and the friendships and connections I’ve made in just this short time.
MTEAM: What’s one thing you’ve learned from being part of the MTeam community?
DP: Prior to joining the MTeam, I was not aware of the rare condition FOXG1. Through this amazing community of the MTeam, I’ve learned so much about the syndrome and what a supportive community there is for people just like Mer Bear.
MTEAM: What makes the MTeam special? What would inspire people to join you?
DP: I can’t say much about other teams as this is kind of the first fundraising team I’ve ever joined, but MTeam’s genuine dedication to help this cause, their love and support for one another and for Mer, and the welcoming attitude they have towards anyone interested in the team and Best Buddies Challenge is something very special and does not go unnoticed.
MTEAM: Did you walk, run or ride in the 2018 Best Buddies Challenge? What about 2019? Describe the atmosphere of the event for us!
DP: I completed the 100 mile cycling challenge and I signed up that same day to do it again in 2019. Honestly, it was very nerve-wracking as it was a challenge that I never thought was possible for me. I’ll never forget the feeling at the starting line that I was just about to embark on a six and a half hour bike ride when the longest I’ve ever done before was two hours. But the support I had along the way and the smiles on the Best Buddies' faces at the finish line made it all worth it!!
MTEAM: Tell us about your training regime and how you prepare yourself for the physical challenge.
DP: Due to an ankle injury last year, I didn’t really have a strict training regime for this challenge. I cannot emphasize enough that it was mind over matter for me. I remember at one point, around mile 82, I just shut off my brain and turned into a machine to keep my legs going.
MTEAM: Mentally, what helps you reach the finish line and keep pushing yourself toward your goals?
DP: I kept thinking of the individuals in my life that may have not been able to complete this challenge due to physical or mental limitations and kept reminding myself that I am doing this for them. I did it for anyone and everyone that’s ever wanted to be able to do this type of challenge.
MTEAM: How did you feel when you crossed the finish line last year?
DP: The last two miles by far were the hardest miles I have ever ridden. I didn’t think I was even going to make it to the finish line. But, turning that corner and seeing all the faces of friends and families cheering and supporting everyone was overwhelming. I was elated. The hug I received from the buddy who gave me the finisher’s medal was a moment I’ll never forget.
MTEAM: What’s your best piece of advice for MTeam newbies and one piece of advice for returning MTeamers?
DP: For new teammates, welcome to the family! We are here if you need anything. Just know we are with you every step of the way. For returning MTeamers, thank you for paving the way for this amazing growing team and for continuing to utilize the team as a means for outreach. All I can say is thank you, I admire you all, and I feel privileged to be a part of this team.
MTEAM: Share an MTeam memory that has been the most powerful and inspiring for you so far.
DP: Our captain John let us know we had surpassed our original goal of $150,000 raised right before the start of the 100 mile ride. This was a giant morale boost and I knew right away that I had made the right decision to join this amazing team. I can’t wait for the future memories that we will be creating in 2019 and many years to come.