Exceeding Expectations Celebrates Dynamite December, Stellar 2013


Boingo is a proud supporter of Exceeding Expectations, a San Bernardino-based program that encourages at-risk kids to move their lives in a positive direction, using the sport of triathlon as the vehicle. The organization’s highest priority is education, and their ultimate objective is to ensure that every one of the participants graduates high school and goes on to college.

Exceeding Expectations founder – and Boingo’s Chief Fitness Guru and resident butt-kicker – Cherie Gruenfeld recently shared some year-end updates from the Exceeding Expectations team’s very busy December to get 2014 off to an inspiring start.

December 2013 was Exceeding Expectations’ busiest ever, with three racing events for our student team members, and our annual awards ceremony.

The racing events required even more determination and commitment from our team than usual, given the cold desert temperatures and a triathlon double booking. The HITS triathlon series in La Quinta started with temperatures in the 30s, so there were a lot of chattering teeth and blue lips – but there was no quitting as the kids stuck it out for the sprint and international distances.

HITS 2013

HITS 2013

And the Exceeding Expectations team even did double duty on HITS race day. While the HITS team braved the cold, other team members participated in the Tinsel Tri, an Exceeding Expectations tradition for more than a decade. Many fine performances were turned in and everyone had a great time.

The team also participated in the “Santa PAWS” 5K in Palm Springs benefiting Desert Guide Dogs, which had a special twist this year – all participants raced in Santa suits!

"Santa PAWS" in Santa suits!

“Santa PAWS” in Santa suits!

We also held our annual awards party at the Drayson Center in Loma Linda in December. This is the most important event of the year for us, because this is when we have most of the parents in one place and drive home our core mission of getting every Exceeding Expectations kid into college.

This year we were especially fortunate to have in attendance Dr. Dale Marsden, Superintendent of the San Bernardino City Unified School District, one of the largest in California. Dr. Marsden chatted with the parents and kids, addressed the gathering and then stayed to watch as we presented a number of awards celebrating the year’s accomplishments.

Most importantly, we were able to confer on our older EE team members the following educational scholarships:

  • $5,000 to Archi Lai from renowned architect and “EE believer” David E. Martin. Upon presenting this award, David made an impassioned plea to the kids about refusing to settle for “good enough.”
  • Two $750 “Blazeman Memorial Scholarships” from the Blais family to high school senior Jesus Soto and UC Berkeley sophomore Louisa Moreno. These annual scholarships, along with an equivalent amount donated to our general fund, honor the memory of Bob and Mary Ann Blais’ son and dedicated educator, Jon. (Read more here.)
  • The new $1,000 “Greg Seal Educational Development Fund,” from Lee’s old friend and ex-partner at Deloitte, and $5,000 from our loyal benefactor Boingo Wireless, will be made available to any EE team member who presents a creative idea for furthering his or her education outside of the standard school curriculum. Marlene Samano is the first recipient of the Boingo grant, and next summer will participate in a “Medical Brigade” to Panama organized by UC San Diego. We’ll report on additional recipients from both these funds during 2014.
  • $3,000 from Barbara Ann Bernard and “Team weWin” to high school seniors Josh Rodriguez, Anthony Patterson, Jesus Soto and Archi Lai, to be used as necessary during the process of applying to and making decisions about college, which all four will be starting next fall. Read about Team weWin here. You’ll be amazed.
  • $1,000 from John and Lizzie Brenkus to Marlene Samano in support of her college career at UC San Diego. The “Brenki” are two incredibly accomplished people who have made it their business to see that no EE kid’s potential goes unrealized.

In addition to the special endowments listed above, the majority of what we spend on the kids still comes from the hundreds of donations we receive throughout the year from the very individuals who are reading this blog post. So I hope you’ll take a few minutes to share the joy of yesterday’s occasion with us in photos, which you can find here.

We hope you had a very happy, healthy and safe holiday with your families. Best wishes for an even better 2014.


About Cherie

Cherie Gruenfeld, Boingo's official butt-kicker, is an Ironman age group champion and world record holder. She is a grand masters triathlete — a sport in which she didn't even start competing in until her 40s — proving that top fitness is achievable at any age. She has raced in more than 25 Ironman triathlons, has 18 wins overall, and has won her age group at the Ironman World Championships a whopping 13 times. She's also an incredible fitness coach with great insights on goal setting and fitness on the road. Have a question for Cherie? Email her at askcherie@boingo.com. You can also learn more about her non-profit organization, Exceeding Expectations on Facebook.
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