Wednesday, April 09, 2008

My niece, Hailey

Okay, so she's not my niece...but I have sisters and brothers from different mothers, uncles and aunts that aren't related to my parents, and at least one grandfather who isn't. My definition of family is a little skewed toward inclusion.

Hailey, a charming 14-year old, is an up and coming slalom racer, talented and poised beyond her years. She certainly charmed the socks off me at Canoecopia. She was asking for a donation, but was unclear what she wanted or needed, so Uncle Darren took her under his wing and explained how this sponsored athlete thing works.

Athletes want gear and cash. Vendors want associations with exceptional athletes and beyond that, exceptional people. They want their product portrayed to the world in a good light, by people who not only win, but are good examples to the world of what it means to be a paddler. N.B. I have no idea why some whitewater paddlers are sponsored, given their off-river behavior. It's often crude and usually shameful. Anyway...

Once Hailey and I had a list of what she wanted and needed, we started talking to different folks and found that most if not all were receptive to being associated with Hailey and her C-1, Nemo (notice the similarity). Lili from MTI/Palm was exceptionally impressed, as was Carol from Smartwool, Jim from Werner, Bruce from Sawyer Paddle, Michael from Kokatat, and a few other various and sundry vendors who helped get Hailey outfitted for this season.

Walking back to meet her parents, Hailey put her little arm around my waist, gave me a little sideways hug and said, "Uncle Darren, you're brilliant." Actually, Hailey is the brilliant one, training hard while maintaining a honor roll GPA and developing other skills as an artist.

In short, just the sort of person you'd want to have as a niece.

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