Last year was my first year of running triathlons and I successfully completed the Nation’s Triathlon with Team In Training.
This year 2011 I have developed a race calendar that includes several runs from 5K’s to full marathons. The most important events on my calendar are; Eagleman Half Ironman June 12, 2011, Nation’s Triathlon September 11, 2011, Sea Gull Century Ride October 15, 2011. Each of these events are being done to raise money to find a cure for cancer through the Team In Training program with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There will be one additional thing added to my race uniforms and that is a pink ribbon for breast cancer. My mother was diagnosed in December 2010 with stage 1 breast cancer and even though the doctors believe that they got it all I will run in her honor. This year’s Honored TNT Teammate is Eva Paxton from the Eastern Shore of MD. Eva is registered to run the Eagleman Half Ironman. She is a twenty year old that was diagnosed in late last year with lymphoma and yet she will be training to complete a 1.2 Mile Swim, 56 Mile Bike, 13.1 Mile Run.
Many of us know somebody who is a survivor of cancer or lost their lives to the disease. Unfortunately for me leukemia and struck my family not once or twice but three times. My grandmother Lilly Lewis, my father George Lewis, and my uncle Dave Lewis were all diagnosed with leukemia. Uncle Dave is a survivor and were all very grateful that the technology available to help him overcome this disease.
My dad passed away in 1992 and only survived about 10 months after his diagnosis. Grand mom Lewis lived for most of my youth fighting the disease with every placebo and trial drug available at the time. She put up a good fight for many years. Not knowing much about leukemia at the time of my father’s diagnosis I assumed that I would have just as many years with him as we had with his mother. I don’t think I will ever forget the final weekend of dad’s life in hospital. Making sure that he was comfortable and that all his children got a chance to say goodbye. This experience changed my life tremendously and I knew that I had to do something so that maybe others would not have to experience the same thing.
In 1995 I had become an amateur runner and learned about the Leukemia Society Team in Training program in a running magazine. So I joined the South Jersey Chapter and raised funds in memory of my grandmother and father and set out to run the Alaska Marathon. I was assigned an honored patient who was a young man that had leukemia. Guy and I became friends and I would visit him at his home and even when he was at the hospital. We were looking forward to me completing the marathon and celebrating together with our families. The celebration never took place as Guy lost his battle to leukemia prior to the marathon.
Throughout the years I have actively supported the Leukemia Society through my donations and my training. In the year 2000, I raised money and trained with the team in training program to run 25th Anniversary Marine Corps Marathon. This year 16 years after my first run with the team, I’m going to run the Eagleman Half Ironman June 12th, Nation’s Triathlon September 11th, and the Seagull Century ride October 2, 2011. After completing the century ride will achieve the Triple Crown award from Team In Training which means I have completed a marathon, triathlon, and century ride with them.
Some may ask why run a triathlon when you already know you can run a marathon? Why do I continue to run these endurance events? When a patient is diagnosed with leukemia they don’t always get the type of cancer they can beat. Most of the survivors that I’ve spoken with have gone through multiple types of therapies ranging from radiation, blood transfusions to bone marrow transplants. When looking at my life today and the challenge of a triathlon I said this is what I have to do. My training will be exceptionally hard as I will be learning to swim and cycle competitively which is something that I’ve never done. Each of the events in a triathlon by themselves is hard to accomplish. It takes years of treatments to beat cancer and only a day to complete an endurance event like an Ironman: I will continue to train to run these events for as long as I can or there is a cure found.
I need everyone to become a supporter in this effort to complete the events listed above and help raise money for cancer research so that others will not have to suffer like those I’ve written about in this letter. The Leukemia Society uses your money to help fund the research to find a cure for these blood cancers. Your money also helps to fund the support groups they need not just for the patients but also for their families. Too many times we focus so much on what can we do for the patient and forget about their families and the struggles they’re going through at the same time. So become a star on my team by donating $25 to the Leukemia Society and its help find a cure for the future.
Finally, my first goal of $2,650.00 needs to be met by May and then I will be raising money to run the other two events for this year. The total needed for this year to participate in all 3 events is over $6000.00. Photos of my training will be posted on my Facebook site where you can follow my training and leave encouraging messages. You can make your donation on a secured site at My Fundraising Page.