What do you do if a child comes to you with a question about this year’s tagline for the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon? It’s on his t-shirt, and it says “Save the Kids!” I’d have to sympathize with him.
Because if I’d were a kid, I’d wonder why I need to be saved.  “Oh, I can’t wear this t-shirt. What if some minister, you know the ones in the business of saving people, reads my t-shirt? He’d pluck me out of a crowd and do his saving in front of my friends. Then he’ll get all proud of me and start tellin’ people I’d want to be a minister when I grow up because I was wearin’ this t-shirt that says “save the kids!” I’d have to tell him I think my saving is different from his saving.”
Seriously, I’d tell the kids there are all these things that can happen to some children — some of whom might be their friends — and a lot of them will end up at the hospital. Even though these kids may have more guts and determination than we do, they probably feel lonely — and a sense of despair. So, the triathlon is an opportunity for our kids to do something for them. The fees we pay to participate in the race may, to name a few fun things, get a clown into a child’s room at the hospital.
The triathlon — in and of itself – is a single act of compassion. It is not only a mark of a tri-athlete but it is also a mark of a compassionate human being.
So, if I had an opportunity to revise the tagline for a new t-shirt, I’d suggest something like: “Do something useful. Be a champion for others. Do it quietly. And do it anonymously.”
And if I were a kid, I’d wear this new t-shirt as another act of compassion. Maybe it’ll remind people to do something else useful other than complain. Plus, this t-shirt might save me from that minister.