If you’ve never heard of the concept, “Third-Party Accountability” is the idea that you can be held accountable to complete a task or reach a goal by way of enlisting others to help make sure you keep your promise. For things like quitting smoking or losing weight, this is a great way of achieving your desired result and might even make the day-to-day battle to stay on track a bit easier. For 57 year-old Len Forkas of Fairfax County, Virginia, keeping true to his promise means completing a coast-to-coast race across the United States entirely on a bicycle. Might not sound so bad to make the 3000-mile journey, but the Race Across America must be completed in a grueling span of just 12 days.
When Len’s son Matt was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2003, he found that beyond the physical pain caused by the radiation and chemotherapy, his son’s spirits were frankly crushed as he could no longer attend school nor engage with his friends. The sickness could be quantifiably eased with medication, however there was nothing to soothe the loneliness and sadness caused by his isolation.
Not being one to simply give up and accept a bad situation, Len installed a computer and webcam in both his son’s bedroom and his 3rd grade classroom so that he could remain connected to his friends. The change in Matt’s attitude and outlook was “remarkable,” so much so that Len decided to create Hopecam, a 501c3 charity, to make a lasting change. From their website, “Hopecam uses technology to overcome the social isolation of children in treatment for cancer and other life threatening illnesses.” As of 2016, over 1000 children have participated in the program and the numbers continue to rise.
As Len cycles through 110-degree desert heat to 5-mile vertical ascents into sub-freezing temperatures, the will to push on and complete the journey can only take a human so far. In his series of videos filmed for Wisdom Capture, Len goes into detail about some of the most difficult moments of the trek. He’s often asked, “Were there times when you felt like quitting or couldn’t go on?” His response: “Of course, those moments happen all the time. But every time I have a moment of weakness I think about these kids. I think about what they go through. I promised 12 different children that I was going to call them each day of the race. These kids are going through radiation and chemotherapy. What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to tell them ‘It’s hot out here’”?
Leveraging the power of Third-Party Accountability means making huge commitments that you simply cannot afford to fail on. No matter what the challenge, stay true to your word and those that have put their trust in you. In Len’s words: “filter out all the negatives, stay focused, stay in the moment, and keep pushing the pedals.”
Watch Len's Wisdom Capture on Third-Party Accountability