The Hands that Raise You Up

August 2, 2018 – Day three of the Continental Unity Games and things are in full swing. Literally. Paddles, rackets, arms and legs – gracefully arching, stretching, reaching and rushing. In many ways, sports are like carefully choreographed dances – as one player pivots the other intuitively follows suit. Every move is calculated – much like every aspect considered for the Continental Unity Games.



“In order to plan for a huge event [like this], we had a week of devotional prayers. Inevitably some people might get injured, so we also have a medical team ready. Part of our preparations as well was finding nurses. [They] volunteered their time to be here for all three days. Even if the athletes weren’t injured, if they just needed some water. So if anyone gets injured, whether they’re an athlete or not, they will all get taken care of.” Said Rochelle, an organizer for the event.


Despite best laid plans, sometimes things happen.


“[We get] a lot of sprains, strains and blisters,” said Lynbel Llamelo, a first aid volunteer from Redwood City, who yesterday tended to Mart De Vera from South Atlanta, Georgia.

“I felt a lot of love and it’s really heartwarming. I thank God I didn’t have any problems at all,” he says of the attention he received from the volunteers.

Mart found Lynbel today to personally thank her for her help. After a quick hug, she quickly reverted to caretaker mode and advised him to get out of the sun and to stay hydrated.


Like Mart and Lynbel, many of the athletes participating today are officers and leaders in the Church Of Christ, who in the heat of competition or in the face of injury attribute their composure to a few things. A former athlete-turned-spectator recalls the connection he made with a mentor, turned life-coach.



“I remember when we were kids, Brother Brian would not only coach us but drive us to and from sporting events. He is like a big brother to me and he was even a sponsor at my wedding. When things get heated during sporting events, I always remember not wanting to let my mentors -him, my dad, all my other coaches- down. I think that their collective patience and just demonstration of keeping cool is what stuck with me as an athlete.” EJ Gutierrez recalls of his former softball coach Brian Atizado, who today still coaches the Northwest California teams.


Despite preparation, training and graceful pivots, sometimes the unexpected happens. But as Desmond Anderson from Rockland notes, “Physical and Spiritual preparation are similar – you have to train hard for both.” Coupled with the guiding hands of mentors and the support of the people around them – both  can take their game and their faith to a whole other level.

Keep up with the events and check the score here. Can’t make it to California for the games? Send your message of support to your home team on social media and tag it using #inc50west. Participating or spectating? Add your story to the celebration by sharing it on social media using #inc50west or submitting here:

Written by: Mar Gutierrez

Mar Gutierrez is a staff writer for She is also the producer of the INC50west Blogs and a host on Faith and Family’s Tired Mom Podcast. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her two kids and her husband in the SF Bay Area.