Japan is gripped by its worst disaster since WWII. Earthquakes, tsunami and now nuclear radioactivity fears.
Why did we start?
Kamaishi was the town on TV that really struck a chord string with us. Suddenly, this was real and it suddenly this was personal. When we saw buildings we had stayed in, shops we had visited, and roads we had walked down, vanish in front of our eyes, under the relentless surge of that all consuming Tsunami. However, we are just two people, with limited resources and limited time. Rather than watch in vain and prey, we put a stake in the ground and said "now is the time to act." The earthquake and Tsnuami we saw hit Kamaishi was the catalyst, for our call to action.
Triathlon is all we know, I have been involved in triathlon for 25 years, it is not only our livelihood and our hobby, and a way of life. Although we say tri4japan, we want to include all sports, swim, bike run, endurance and sprint, individual and team. The true essence of our mission is that all people from all sports around the world come together and TRY FOR JAPAN.
Click on the image below to watch Mike and Rieko Trees interviewed by the BBC about Tri4Japan:
Our Charity and where we are heading
We have now been up and running for just over a week, and in that time I have hardly slept, but single handedly kept Starbucks in profit.
I thought it was time to take stock and update you about where are heading.
Rieko and I started this charity after seeing such awful images of Kamaishi Port and City being destroyed in front of our eyes. Because of our connection to the city through triathlon, we instantly new had to do something. We started telling the world about this city, and soon the Japanese triathlon community heard of our activities.
They are extremely grateful and we have heard lots of "Thank you" voices. Everyone says it will give them all "mental strength to struggle on, no matter how much we collect money".
We are humbled by such expressions.
However, at the same time we heard people saying "Why Kamaishi?, there are other cities who lost lives and some who are still getting no help because of the leaking radiation.
Sydney Olympic triathlete (and current member of Team TBB), Hiro Nishiuchi's family live in Minami Soma city, which is within the 30km exclusion zone of the Fukushima nuclear power station and people cannot get in or out of the area. Lots of truck drivers are refusing to go there and take in supplies, such as food and water. He and his family are incredibly stressed over this situation.
Unfortunately, his cousin died in the Tsunami and his grandmother is still missing, eight members of his family have been evacuated to his wife, Maki's house in Kobe.
Rieko's friends' house is based in within 30km of the Fukushima nuclear power station, his family are farmers and own 1000s of cows. Because they have to look after them, they are still hanging in there.
Our friend's Satohi, grew up in Akita-prefecture, unfortunately the school she graduated from is now the place where they are putting dead bodies.
The more Rieko and I talked to Japanese people, the more we realized that the whole 500km ocean area has been hugely damaged and we thought it is not right just to support Kamaishi city just because we have a great history with it. For example we have discovered a little known fact, that up to 40% of the Japanese fishing fleet may have been destroyed in the tsunami!
To be honest, the problem is so vast, it is virtually impossible to decide where we should start from. However, we have to start somewhere.
Rieko and I have thought long and hard and our central theme has not changed.
"We want to help people who lost their loved ones, we want to help the survivors and we want to give them hope and joy and reasons to live!"
This charity has just started and until we can get to Japan in April, we cannot decide who we will hand over the money to, but we will keep you updated about what we are doing so that our activities will be as clear as possible. We aim to give out regular reports to keep reminding people around the world what is happening in the area, otherwise the mass media will move on and the world will forget.
After a summer of collecting money and after our big triathlon Ebay auction, we aim to make our first donation in October.
How much we can give and who we can give it to will depend on how much we raise. The more money we raise, the more chance we have to split the donations between various None Profit Organisations (NPO's) in the disaster zone in Japan.
We would like your comments and opinions, we will consider them all.
If you are happy with what we are doing, please support us!
My Japanese wife Rieko and I lived in Japan for many years and have family and friends there.
On Friday 11th March 2011, we watched in horror when the earthquake and tsunami hit Eastern Japan.
We instantly knew we had to do something.
One of the port towns called Kamaishi was literally washed away in front of our eyes...
Kamaishi International Triathlon has been at the forefront of triathlon in Japan for over 22 years. To name just a few Pro's, Cameron Brown, Lorretta and Luke Harrop, Rina Bradshaw Hill, Glende Magnum, Chris Hill, Stephen Farrell, Jason Metters, myself Mike Trees, have all raced there. All these athletes were able to make a living at the sport thanks to the generous sponsorship of such races.
Kamaishi International Triathlon was funded totally by the Town Council. Now the town has been devastated and that same council and town needs our support.
As I write this I am still unable to contact my friends in kamaishi Town. Each day we pray for good news!
I want all triathletes around the world to dig deep and help Tri4Japan raise money. Triathlon in Japan has enriched the lives of so many triathletes for over 25 years, now I want all our friends in the triathlon world to help Japan. Our aim is to raise as much money as possible by September. No expenses will be taken, and all people helping are offering their time and services for free.
The money will really help but also the psychological boost to the Japanese, knowing that all triathletes around the world are helping will be priceless.
Rieko and I intend to get to the devastated area as soon as it is safe to do so.
We will research and analyze what Japanese need most and would like to use it for their best, as we realise many will now be orphaned due to the tsunami, we want our money to help people who have lost their family members through this disaster.
We will raise money by the following:
Corporate - we are looking for companies to make donations
We are looking for retailers to ask customers for a voluntary donation to our charity for a fixed period of time.
Triathlon & Sports Clubs - we are looking for clubs to raise money on our behalf.
Events - we are looking for events from around the world to us join and donate entries
Individuals - we are looking for people to do challenges on behalf of our charity
T-shirts - in the UK, we have 2,000 T-shirts, to give away in return for £10 donations
Cycle Jerseys - in the USA we are making 500 cycle jersey's to give away in return for $100 donations.
Cash donations - also people can make a simple cash donation via our website
Big Triathlon Ebay Auction - this will begin on August 1st. If you have any goods to donate please get in touch. We have already had some amazing things donated to us.
Professional Athletes - we want you to donate goodies to our auction
Offers of Support
Before sending this mission statement, initial response has been tremendous.
Newton Running, GU Energy, 2XU, Blue Seventy, OpenWaterSwim.co.uk, Triathlete magazine UK, Tri247.com have pledged support. (this list is just the start...we need many more companies on board )
Help and volunteers needed
At present it is just Rieko and I so we need help to get this appeal to build momentum.
Mike and Rieko Trees
Remember what thought did? NOTHING!!!!...he just thought he did it!
We are all busy, but must make the effort, don't be like thought.
Emilio De Soto to Head Up American Fundraising for Tri4Japan - read more
Although they have lost everything, they can still smile! Could you?
Kamaishi in better times
Mike Trees finishing the 1992 Kamaishi International Triathlon
Rieko Trees in 2004 exiting the swim...what if the tsunami struck while we were racing, I cannot dare to think about it?
Invited triathletes from overseas all relaxing after the 2004 triathlon