Paragliding Meets Philanthropy: Making Spirits Soar in Mexico
I’ve visited Mexico a lot. Twenty-somethin’ times, a lot of different places, all totally awesome. It was in Mexico that I met my wife, learned Spanish, and cut my teeth as an international traveler. I love it.
I figured that I was overdue to do something good for the country that has given me so much, so I started modifying the plans for my next paragliding trip in the direction of philanthropy. On my most recent trip, I climbed a mountain in Aguascalientes that was covered in trash, so I thought that on this trip, we could clean it up. I was thinking that this would suffice as my good deed and I could get lots of flying in. For my 14-day visit, I planned on spending 12 days flying, two days doing good things.
But, once there, my paraglider was mostly neglected. I hardly flew. And my life changed for the better.
BIGGER PLANS TAKE FLIGHT
When I arrived in Aguascalientes, I got to work on planning the cleanup project for the following Saturday. I let my friends and family down there know what I was doing, asking them to get involved. They started telling me about other opportunities in the area to help out. My aunt told me she had volunteered for a home that had 18 elderly women with degenerative mental health issues. It runs only on donations, and they were in need of all kinds of supplies. My cousin told me about a local orphan home with 20 girls, ages 12-18. They needed a visitor to give them some love. My Mexican friend, Adrian, called and told me that his custom Spiderman suit had arrived, and that he had time to make a visit to sick kids.
It made me feel like a million bucks. It only cost a hundred.
The next day we spent all our time running around town getting the supplies for the women: new sheets, mops, brooms, sugar, coffee, laundry detergent, dish soap, cups, bowls, a TV, a blender, a table, and lots more.
The day after that, we visited the children’s hospital with Spiderman, just to say hi. The kids loved it, they smiled and laughed. The following day, we bought new socks, necklaces, hair ties, and bracelets for the orphaned girls. I talked to them about highlining, and how to stand back up when you fall down. The message resonated with the girls, as they are prone to feeling knocked down in their own lives. Everyone loves new socks, so they were stoked. It made me feel like a million bucks. It only cost a hundred.
I talked to them about highlining, and how to stand back up when you fall down. The message resonated with the girls.
When we showed up at the care facility for women with all the supplies, the saintly woman who cares for the ladies was ecstatic, especially about the new work shoes we picked up for her. The women themselves didn’t seem to notice all the supplies, but they smiled at all the visitors. I was busy bringing in the supplies while my wife and cousins simply greeted the ladies. The ladies became animated, and their eyes lit up. Being stuck in this care facility, it was like they missed shaking hands, missed the everyday greetings of Mexican culture.
A Little Help Makes a Difference
We had spent some money doing good things, but it was at this moment that I realized something very important: We are all already good enough and sufficiently equipped to make a difference in people’s lives. A little time, attention, and effort—it’s all good enough, right now.
It doesn’t take money, and it doesn’t need to be a huge project. There are people out there who just need another person to look them in the eye and give them a hug. There are kids who need love, and old folks who need some dignity and a partner to play checkers with. So go, give some love, some hugs and lots of smiles. You’re more than good enough already.
A skier, highliner, paraglider, and filmmaker who is always striving for personal progression, KEEN Ambassador Ari DeLashmutt puts a strong value on inspiring others while working to make as much of his “insane list of dreams” into a reality as possible. To get a regular dose of inspiration, follow Ari on Instagram at @ariintheair.