“100% Pure California Grown” is the slogan of the Carpinteria Triathlon, and perhaps no one exemplifies this more naturally than 9-year-old Jacob Mansbach. Jacob is once again participating in the Carpinteria Triathlon and has partnered with his friend Dario de Albegaria to raise $10,000 for the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County before they complete the Sept. 29 event.

Jacob, an energetic soon-to-be fourth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School, loves everything about being active and outdoors, including hiking, playing in the ocean with his younger brother and participating in triathlons. In fact, this year will mark his second year participating in the Carpinteria Triathlon and his ninth triathlon.

Last year during triathlon season, he set two goals for himself: to complete the Santa Barbara Triathlon and to raise $4,000 for Foodbank (the non-profit beneficiary of the 2012 Santa Barbara Triathlon). Jacob completed the event in great time and with the community’s help, surpassed his goal and raised $4,636 for Foodbank.

This year, Jacob has inspired fellow Roosevelt Elementary schoolmate Dario de Albegaria to join him in raising funds for Foodbank of Santa Barbara County and to participate in triathlon for the first time. Dario, a fun-loving 11-year-old, is passionate about soccer and running and traveling with his family. Last year he joined Jacob in the run portion of the Santa Barbara Triathlon and was so energized that he signed up to join him in two triathlons this year. Dario is a compassionate boy, and he is excited to join forces with Jacob to help the children and families of Santa Barbara County.

“At the heart of Foodbank’s mission is nutrition education and empowerment, especially for our youth,” said Erik Talkin, CEO of the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. “Jacob and Dario are champions in every sense of the word, encouraging people of all ages towards healthy activities and setting a great example of giving back.”

It was the Santa Barbara Triathlon and the great work they do in partnering with local nonprofits that first brought Jacob together with the Foodbank. Jacob began a relationship with the Foodbank last year when he volunteered at its warehouse. He helped fill backpacks with fruits, vegetables and other nutritious food for the nonprofit’s BackPack Program that focuses on helping homeless and transient children get the nutrition they need during the weekend, when they may not be receiving meals elsewhere.

Jacob was given the opportunity last fall to speak to the students of Roosevelt Elementary and to inspire them to help their community by volunteering. This year Jacob and Dario volunteered at the Foodbank’s Picnic in the Park summer food program that offers free, nutritious meals, activities and enrichment opportunities to kids who may normally receive free or reduced-priced meals during the school year, but go without during the summer.

“We are proud of Jacob and Dario for their dedication to helping others and honored they chose our event around which to do their fundraising,” said Ann Meyer, City of Carpinteria Parks and Recreation management assistant and Carpinteria Triathlon organizer. “It’s very exciting seeing youth in our community emerge as leaders and champions of important causes such as the Foodbank’s.”

“As a long time community activist, the biggest challenge is to get young people involved,” said Ken Palley, a friend of the Mansbach family and an environmental advocate. “Jacob and Dario’s actions personify exactly the sort of selfless contributions to the welfare of the community that gives me hope for the future.”

Jacob’s approach to preparing for the triathlon comes naturally through his enjoyment of being active and outdoors with his family.

“The most important part is having a good time,” Jacob says about the upcoming triathlon. “I also want to inspire other kids to be active in any sport!”

Dario has participated in the East Beach Junior Lifeguard Program for the last two summers and it has helped to prepare him for triathlons. He will compete in his first triathlon in August and then follow it up with the Carpinteria Triathlon in September.

“I wanted to get involved this year because I see how important it is for all people to have food that’s healthy and good,” Dario said. “It’s fun helping other kids and families, plus I love playing sports!”

By working together, Dario and Jacob are not only encouraging each other, they are inspiring elementary school kids across the county to combine something they love to do with helping the people in their community.

Click here to follow Jacob and Dario’s progress and contribute to the Foodbank.

— Candice Tang Nyholt is a publicist representing the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County.