“Race” can mean a number of things, whether you are rushing to get to the grocery store or competing against elite runners on the world stage. For Club Fit Briarcliff Sales Representative Jen Muller, “race” is going to mean a life-changing experience, as she prepares to participate in The World Race, a journey into eleven countries in eleven months to serve the underprivileged. Participants such as Jen experience an adventure where they abandon worldly possessions and a traditional lifestyle in exchange for a true understanding that it’s not about them, it’s about helping those in need.
Jen first found out about The World Race when her older brother entered the program, after searching online for missionary opportunities, something he had been interested in pursuing. As a professional poker player, he had the flexibility to take the year off − not so for Jen. But when she heard how rewarding his experience had been, she decided to take the plunge, which includes a year-long break from life in Ossining , NY, and her job at Club Fit.
The actual trip begins in September, after an intensive training session in July, where the participants are exposed to the conditions in each country they will visit. According to Jen, “Each day of training will mimic everything that can happen in a particular month in a particular location.” The itinerary currently has her beginning in Thailand, then going to Cambodia, Vietnam, Botswana, Swaziland, South Africa, Turkey, Albania, the Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. The three she’s looking forward to the most? Thailand (“So beautiful!”), Albania (“It’s where Mother Teresa is from.”) and South Africa (“Who wouldn’t want to go on safari?!”).
But the trip is about so much more than seeing the world for twenty-six-year-old Jen. “I felt it was like a calling from God to serve the poor,” she says. “I wanted to get out of the Westchester ‘bubble’ and open my eyes to the rest of the world, which is made up of so many people who don’t have as much as we do here.” Jen will be part of a “squad” of approximately 60 people from all over the country (interestingly enough, there is a participant in her group from Mahopac!) who are broken down into teams of 8 to 10 in each location. Each team is given a specific area to focus on, which can include working with orphans, building and repairing houses, and helping victims of human trafficking. Jen is most looking forward to working with the kids. “I love kids, and you can learn so much from them!”
The main thing the teams are taught is, “Expect the unexpected!” Participants are matched up with host families at each location, usually religious leaders in the community, but living conditions vary from location to location. You can sleep in a bed, in a tent, on the floor; participants have to be prepared for anything. They travel with only a hiking backpack, and are only able to bring the bare essentials, which hopefully will include space for a tent.
As you can imagine, when asked what she will miss the most, Jen says, “A shower and a bed!” She will also miss her co-workers at Club Fit, as well as the members she has gotten to know so well since beginning in Reception four years ago. But she hopes to be back! “Everyone at Club Fit has been so supportive!”
As far as funding the trip, Jen saved her money and is paying her own way, but, like most participants, she is doing some fundraising to help cover the cost. Before she leaves at the end of June, she and Personal Trainer Jess Manfro plan to hold a special CFX class event – we’ll keep you posted! – and donations can be made directly to Jen or to the organization in general at www.theworldrace.org.
But before donating, Jen encourages everyone to check out the rest of the web site, including the blogs posted by participants. Jen already has her own blog (jennymuller.theworldrace.org), and she invites you to follow her progress as she moves through her journey. “When you have a better understanding of the difference this organization can make in the lives of so many people, it makes it so much easier to give, even participate,” she says.