Go Fund Yourself

Where do I start? In Erin Beresini’s op-ed defending Danielle Dingman’s GoFundMe campaign she brought up a lot of points: Some good, some bad, and some that have nothing to do with Dingman’s fleeting attempt to have others pay for her hobby.

Helping “launch” her “pro” triathlon career is literally the last thing that people should be giving to this holiday season. I don’t mean to publicly shame Dingman, although plenty of people on Twitter have suggested otherwise. It was a little mean of me to sarcastically refer to her as a “gem” in my initial tweet on the matter. For that, I apologize. Now it’s your turn, Danielle. Apologize, take down the damn page, and donate the $1,670 you’ve raised so far to a worthy triathlon-related charity. Feel free to get in touch if you need help finding one.

A number of people on Twitter have made claims that what Dingman is doing is no different than an athlete asking companies for sponsorship. It’s completely different. When a company agrees to sponsor an athlete, they provide money or goods in exchange for brand exposure. There is, hopefully, a return on their investment of some kind. The anonymous donor who gave Dingman $1,000 this week will receive no return on his or her investment. People are free to spend and donate their money however they see fit. But, in my opinion, someone would have to be completely insane to choose Dingman as his or her charity of choice. They could’ve inoculated an entire village in Africa, but thought that money would be better spent flying Dingman around the world to exercise.

My other major issue with what Dingman is doing has to do with the dozens of true professional athletes that I’ve watched grind and suffer to actually make it. I’ve let them sleep on my couch. I’ve let them borrow my fancy race wheels. And yes, I’ve even paid for meals and tanks of gas when they’ve literally had no money to their names. Does that make me the same as those who’ve made the foolish decision to go fund Dingman? Not at all. Dingman has a job and a husband. This is a household with two incomes. If “making it” as a pro triathlete is truly her dream, then maybe they should make some sacrifices to make that possible. To me, this is someone who isn’t willing to make the necessary sacrifices and that’s why her dream will continue to be as pesky as it’s been.

But what do I know? I’ve never made it as a pro triathlete. So I asked someone who has for his thoughts. Here’s what long-time pro Eric Lagerstrom had to say:

“It’s wrong to expect someone else to pay for your dream. Pay for your own dream. It’s like she wants to skip half the process. Being a pro triathlete is being your own small business. Part of the process of starting up the small business of being a professional triathlete is working your ass off until you become one. You have to grind; you have to suffer, and you have to love that process. To me this is someone who doesn’t love that process. This is someone who wants to go live the dream and have someone else pay for it.”

Judging by the response I’ve received from dozens of other pros who’ve gone through a similar process as Eric, his thoughts reflect the overwhelming sentiment of the pro triathlon community.

Two final thoughts: $6,600 for flights?! Are you F-ing kidding me? Either she’s planning on flying Emirates first class to these races or she has no clue how to use the internet to find the best airfare. And $916 to cover the cost of the GoFundMe campaign?! She literally wants people to go fund her GoFundMe! That’s insane, and so is anyone who donates to this.

Take the page down, Danielle. There are a lot of really great charities that are a part of this sport that could use this money a lot more than you and I’d be happy to put you in touch.

About the Author

Brad Culp
Brad Culp is unfortunately a 10-year veteran of the triathlon industry. He has spent time as editor-in-chief of LAVA and Triathlete, as well as a brief stint as the media manager of the traveling circus that is the ITU. He now writes for the most respected names in triathlon media, and also Trstriathlon.com. He once assaulted a cab driver in Panama for refusing to turn off Coldplay.
  • M Ware

    Yay for Brad, yay for Ben, yay for content!

  • Frank Rizzo

    I suspect, but have no evidence that the $1,000 donor is likely her father in law, owner of Martin Dingman. And if you ever need a pair of $1,200 leather shoes, he’ll sell you a pair. You can go read about how great they are in The Robb Report, Wall Street Journal, or Forbes if you like before laying out that kind of cash for footwear.