There is nothing more inspiring than seeing a group of people come together for a common cause. Especially when they are doing something they’ve never done before or are up against odds that make their every action brave and heroic. At any given time, we are surrounded by quiet, everyday heroes, people fighting their own battles, facing their own struggles. Sure, we can struggle alone, but there’s nothing more magic than watching people lock arms and decide to join forces and take action.
If you’ve ever felt alone (and who hasn’t?), you know how big the world can seem and how small and insignificant you can feel. But, we’re usually not as alone as we think. And, the world is a lot smaller than we realize.
Last year, after interviewing SEH resident, Mark Adelman, for an article here in SHARE to promote the Team in Training Program with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), I hung up the phone and signed myself up. Little did I know what a life-changing decision that would be.
If you’re not familiar with the program, Team In Training (TNT) is the flagship fundraising program for LLS and the only endurance sports training program for charity that raises money for blood cancer research.
It doesn’t matter if you’re an athlete or not in perfect shape. The TNT coaches will train you to cross the finish line at a marathon, half marathon, cycling event, triathlon or hike adventure.
You register, choose your race, make a pledge to raise a certain amount of money for the cause and they plug you into a training program that will not only get you across the finish line, but will open up your eyes to a new world and to amazing people who will inspire you to live a better life.
I had never ran more than 3 miles in my life, but had always been curious about marathons and wanted to experience it first-hand. After talking with Mark, I thought what better way to do it? And, last June, I completed the 26.2 miles of the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon.
You’d think that would be the end of the story, but actually, it was just the beginning.
Blood cancers are the #3 cancer killer in North America and Leukemia is the leading cause of cancer death in children and young adults under the age of 20. Every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer and every 10 minutes someone loses their battle.
As bleak as those statistics sound, thanks to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and their research, patient services, education and advocacy, there are more success stories than losses. Mark (who I mentioned earlier) was one of them. Last year, he celebrated 20 years in remission and ran the half marathon to celebrate.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program has a lot of connections here in the community. The Director of the San Diego/Hawaii Chapter, Rick Rungaitis, lives here in San Elijo Hills. In addition, there are a number of local connections to this amazing cause and even more to the diseases that LLS seeks to eliminate.
I met Stephanie Krueger last year. She and her family moved to SEH in December of 2014 and she joined Team in Training in 2013 after her son Ben (now 13) was diagnosed. Since Ben’s favorite animal is the Platypus, they named their team Team Platypus and have now raised over $50,000 since it was founded. Ben is currently in remission, but still in treatment. This year, Team Platypus has joined forces with a few other teams and is working to name a research portfolio in Ben’s name. For more information, visit teamplatypus.org.
D’Anne Matzuka joined Team in Training last year and ran her first half marathon with Stephanie at the Los Cabos Half Marathon. She and her family moved to SEH 4 ½ years ago from Chicago. Soon after she signed up for TNT, she learned that our community has two middle school students with leukemia. Both she and Stephanie added Noah Ludtke to their honored heroes running the half marathon for both Noah and Ben.
Brett Gottlieb and I met while serving on the board of the San Elijo Hills Foundation. He ran the LA Marathon in 2013 with Team in Training in honor of his step-mom who passed away from cancer that same year. This year, he is stepping up again in her honor and a renewed commitment to his own health.
Carol Sayles is a new member of the San Elijo Hills Foundation board. We also met through the San Elijo Hills Women’s Club. Carol is a lot like I was last year. She’s never run more than a 5K and is really excited to take on a new challenge for herself while also forming new life-long friendships.
TK Smith is my husband. This year we celebrate our 25th anniversary in June. We’ve done a lot of things over the years, but running a marathon was not one of them….until now. What better way to celebrate 25 years together and a healthy life than to cross that finish line together?
Kimberly Allard and I met through the San Elijo Hills Women’s Club. Kimberly has never done anything like this before and is excited to challenge herself and accomplish this milestone.
Kimberly’s husband Al ran a few half marathons in his 40s, but is excited to take on the challenge in his 50s as a way to improve his health and to give back to an amazing cause.
Together, we are part of a larger team of over 70 people who actively fundraising and training for LLS. We’d love to have your support. And, if you have someone you’d like us to run or walk for, please let us know. We would be happy to add their name to our jerseys.
And, it’s not too late to join us! There’s still plenty of time to train. So, reach out if you’d like to learn more.
Just go to www.sharesanmarcos.com/teamintraining and you will see a link where you can donate or connect with us. You will also see links to everyone’s individual pages if you’d like to contribute to someone’s individual fundraising efforts.
Not a runner? Not a walker? No problem. There are plenty of ways to support LLS. This year they are hosting their first annual golf tournament – the 1st Annual LLS Golf Classic. It will be held April 5, 2016 at the Crosby National Golf Club in Rancho Santa Fe. Come out and play or consider one of their fantastic sponsorship opportunities.
Contact Rick Rungaitis at 858-427-6660 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Big things happen when people lock arms and take on new challenges – together. If you’re looking for a way to give this year and be part of something greater than yourself, we hope you’ll join us!
Visit: www.sharesanmarcos.com/teamintraining for all the connections!