How many fathers do you know? How many have found a way to be present for their wives and kids and still pursue their passions?
I bet some fathers can’t even remember their passions. Or sparks remain in the back corners of their hearts filed away with childhood dreams. Meet Kamau Malone. He found his passion. He’s a BMX racer, a dad and a husband who works full time as a software engineer. One of his favorite wins last year was at the legendary South Park track.
I’ve been inspired as I see Kamau’s race pictures appear on social media. We’ve been friends for about 15 years. I remember the day his wife told me he started racing. My mouth hung open because at the time, he had a toddler and she was pregnant with their second child. I experienced two simultaneous thoughts: a respect for his wife for being so supportive and shock that she was so supportive. How was he going to pursue BMX racing, work full time and still be there for her and the kids?
Well, Kamau has done just that for the last six years. I asked him a few questions about how he reignited his passion for BMX racing. I also wanted to know how he balances it with his family responsibilities. Here’s his response:
Back in the eighties, BMX was big. Pro racer Stu Thompson, was a household name. I thought BMX was cool when I saw snippets of it on TV show like Chips and on commercials. And when I found out about BMX Action magazine, I was hooked. Unfortunately, I didn’t have access to a track. By the time I got to about 9th grade, BMX fell out of mind as it was basically inaccessible for me. Fast forward to 2007. Married, with a three year-old daughter, with a new baby on the way, I wondered if BMX racing was still a “thing” and if there were any tracks near our new home. Turns out that BMX racing was still happening, there were tracks nearby, and that a national level race competition was coming to town. I went as a spectator, watched the race, and knew immediately that it was something I had to do. You ever been in a situation or place, and realized that it was where you belonged? That’s what happened to me watching that race. I bought a bike soon after.
As a married father of two it can be difficult to juggle responsibilities with racing. I usually do all of my training – which alternates between going to the gym and sprinting on the bike – after homework is done, and the children go to bed. Some days I get up at 5:30 a.m., get ready for work and take the kids to school, do a full work day, come home, help with homework and chores, put the kids to bed, and then hit the gym at about 9:30. And then do it again the next night. It can be challenging.”
Kamau seems to have found his passion button and he wasn’t afraid to push it. That’s a concept that comes from Start Where You Are, by Chris Gardner. Chris is perhaps best known for the movie based on his book, The Pursuit of Happyness. The “Y” in Happyness is purposeful because it stands for you and your responsibility for your own happiness. I had the pleasure of meeting Chris in March when he spoke about Life Reimagined. He asked the question, “What is that thing that turns you on so much that the sun can’t come up soon enough in the morning because you want to go do your thing?”
He also spoke about how sometimes you have to do the practical first. And that’s exactly what Kamau does when he shapes his schedule around kids, meals and homework. Chris is working on another book focused on a term he created called, “spiritual genetics.” While our physical genetics are determined by parentage and other scientific factors, what defines our spirit? At age five, living with his amazing mother and his abusive, alcoholic stepfather, Chris made the decision to be a great father who was present for his son. When he was 28 years old, even as he was homeless and a single dad, he would not leave his son. And the proof is in the smiling face Chris Gardner Jr. I met him a few weeks ago. I was struck by how he literally emanates happiness. As I walked away, I thought, that man has been loved fiercely his whole life. When I asked Chris Gardner, Jr. about that energy he wrote, “The ability to make everyone around me, insanely happy” [is a factor in his life decisions]. Chris Gardner, the dad, has many achievements and raising his son and daughter have to rank way, way up there.
I asked Kamau’s family what they think and feel about his racing. Here’s what they say:
Son: “He’s really good at it. He wins a lot of trophies.”
Daughter: “I think it’s really cool because he’s able to make new friends, and he’s able to exercise. And, it’s fun and exciting for me and Dad when we ride down the hills and jump.”
Wife: “BMX has been good for Kamau in terms of motivating him to exercise more, eat better, and have a more active lifestyle overall. He started at age 32 and he’s EARNED a respectable place in the sport, which shows that you should never give up on your dreams. The kids will always be able to look at him as a role model for following your heart and working at something until you achieve your goals no matter what.”
Dads, thank you for your service and for your love of family. Remember your passions. They can fit inside the practical parts of your life. It will only make you better as a human, a husband and a father. Happy Father’s Day!
Kamau would like to thank TSS Racing for helping out with the racing effort the past couple years.
Follow these inspiring men on Twitter:
Kamau Malone @bmxsuperfan
Chris Gardner @CEOofHappYness
Chris Gardner, Jr. @ChrisGardnerJr
BMX Photo credits: Sugarcayne.com, Reed Malone Family.