PHOENIX – The sports world has taken Liz Caracciolo through a variety of personal journeys. From triathlons and mountain biking to collegiate competition as a basketball player at Cornell, she has seen what sports can do for communities of women.
It’s what inspired her to start Ignite Event, with a goal of helping women seek out and achieve meaningful achievements.
The organization’s first major event is an all-women’s bike race Sunday in Fountain Hills. Participants will be able to take part in eight-mile, 20-mile or 40-mile course.
“Right now, a lot of times with sports and just women in general, we get pitted against each other or we’re trying to compete for the same positions,” said Nicole Zeno, the founder of Clever Cow Media who worked with Caracciolo on developing marketing strategy for the event. “This is really bringing us all together into a community that we can share our expertise and then have a common physical goal around it.”
Each part of Sunday’s event is designed to bring people together for a new challenge, Caracciolo said, right down to selecting a bike race over other types of competition.
However, Caracciolo does not view this event as simply the culmination of a training journey. Rather, she wants this to spark a larger, more life-changing journey.
“What I got inspired by with Ignite was how could we extend that moment of personal achievement and build a community that is like-minded and supportive of one another, not just in a physical achievement, but in all areas?” Caracciolo said.
Her own journey in sports started with team competition, like her time at Cornell. As she has entered the business world, one thing from her days as a basketball player sticks out.
“I experienced occasions where if you took all of the raw talent and put it together, there was that exponential potential that could be brought together by uniting teams in the support of each other and the chemistry,” Caracciolo said.
Seeing how a team can come together inspired her to take on leadership roles in business. She has held plenty of business titles since graduating from Cornell, and is currently the chief operating officer of OpenWorks, a facilities management company.
Her well-rounded experience has led her to a vision where people not only get access to resources to help with a physical journey through Ignite but also gain access to a wide range of advice based on what people want to see.
“We’re starting to lay the groundwork to bring those resources together to make them very accessible to our Ignite community,” Caracciolo said.
Some of these resources will soon come together on a YouTube channel, Caracciolo said. Interviews with experts in all kinds of fields will be accessible.
Caracciolo’s passion for helping women experience personal growth has rubbed off on another person who is working with her to deliver the best bike event possible.
“As someone who is in this community, I have found that these types of physical achievements really do ring through your entire life, whether that’s personal or finance or connections or relationships,” Zeno said.
Starting journeys like the one Caracciolo took on for herself and others is a big step. She said being with and seeing women who put themselves out there can bring benefits to those who even just attend April’s event as a spectator.
Other than simply signing up to participate in the event, Zeno said there are plenty of other ways women can still benefit from it. One of them is simply volunteering in some capacity.
“A lot of my friends who have gone on and volunteered, they ended up signing up for the next race because they realize how amazing (it is),” Zeno said. “They want to be a part of it.”