Mississippi State University Recreation is hosting a virtual triathlon titled "Worth A Tri," April 1 through April 11. Online registration is now open on the University Recreation website, and it is $10 for students to register with proceeds going toward benefiting MSU's ACCESS program, which helps students with intellectual and developmental disabilities transition into university-level learning.
Kelsey Totty, a graduate student studying masters of sports administration at MSU, is serving as an intern at the Joe Frank Sanderson Center. In this role she has had the opportunity to pursue the idea of hosting a virtual triathlon. Totty learned more about how to host a virtual triathlon and has worked hard creating it.
"The idea was pitched to me by Mr. Will Jordan, an associate director at the Sanderson. I've never done one, but I am willing to learn. So, I researched it all, learned about the ACCESS program and have just run with it, to be honest," Totty said.
Totty has been able to learn and grow while working on this project and realizing the importance of the triathlon's charitable goal. According to Totty, the event is helpful to encourage healthy habits for those in the community, but it serves a larger purpose.
"The main goal is to promote a fun and healthy way of exercising, but the biggest thing is benefiting the ACCESS program. They are in really big need of donations for scholarship funds. So when this idea was pitched to me about creating the virtual triathlon, I wanted to see if they would like to be involved," Totty said.
Becca Spencer, the assistant director of the ACCESS program, was excited to team up on this project.
"We were approached by Kelsey Totty, and she said she had this idea for a virtual triathlon and would love for the profit to go towards ACCESS. I was so honored that she thought of us and selected us to be the recipients of the profit," Spencer said.
Spencer said she admires the way Totty went about planning the triathlon and making it as accessible as possible. There is an option for everyone, no matter if this is their first triathlon or hundredth triathlon.
"I'm very excited — especially the way Kelsey has thought out the plan for it. She has really kept anybody in mind who wants to participate; she's designed it in a way that any ability level can participate. You can do one event over the course of the ten days, or the true triathlon participants could do it all in one day if they wanted to," Spencer said.
Summer Seage, the recreation facilities coordinator, has a vital role in planning for the triathlon. Seage works behind the scenes with aspects regarding the online registration and programming for the event.
"I developed the whole online part of it. So where you go to sign up for the triathlon, I built that whole thing. I added all the descriptions and different price ranges and things like that. Through that, I will be able to give people who are competing in the triathlon access to the Sanderson," Seage said.
Seage said the process has not been all smooth sailing. Through all of the planning and working, there have been difficulties everyone involved has had to work through.
"The biggest difficulty is that there are so many moving parts since it has grown to be quite big. I don't think anyone has expected it to get this big, but we are excited about it and embracing it," Seage said.
Abigail Galey, a junior education psychology major and ACCESS cooking mentor, believes it is extremely important the proceeds are benefiting the ACCESS program and will allow the program to give individuals with disabilities a new way to flourish.
"It gives these students with disabilities the chance to better themselves, learn and to meet new people outside of their community. Not a lot of schools have an ACCESS program, and I think it's really cool that Mississippi State does," Galey said.
Those wishing to donate to the ACCESS program but not wanting to participate in the triathlon are welcome do so by following the link on the registration page.