For five weeks, Emily Beers obsessed about the CrossFit Games Open. She tied her self-worth to her performance. Then she went to Haiti. And things changed.
“Today I’m surrounded by poverty and hunger. The Open is the furthest thing from my mind,” she says only days after completing the final workout of the five-week competition.
At a school, Beers dishes out a salty cornmeal paste for children. The meal includes weeds, leaves and dirt.
“It’s so crazy. People wouldn’t even eat that food back home,” she says. “It would be thrown out and they come and they’re not even complaining. They’re so grateful.”
Later that afternoon, the group of CrossFit athletes with whom Beers is traveling visits Kannot. There, travel companion and paramedic Julie Roberts treats residents for whatever maladies they have. One patient is a boy with a badly infected machete wound.
“I don’t like to see people hurt and suffering,” says Roberts, who has traveled to Haiti more than a dozen times for humanitarian work. “And if I can do something, it adds to my life. It just, it makes me a happier person.”
Beers, meanwhile, has gained perspective.
“Life isn’t about how well you perform at workouts. It’s about how well you perform at life. And nobody is better at that than Haitians,” she explains. “That’s the beauty of this place—acceptance and the choice to be happy.”
Video by Carey Peterson.
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Additional reading: Three Days in Haiti Part 3: Adversity and Hope by Emily Beers, published Oct. 9, 2013.