I got started with The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) when our good friend, Tim Mauro, ran for Man of the Year and my husband, Larry, was his “campaign manager.” Tim’s father-in law, Bob, was battling non Hodgkin lymphoma. Watching them battle with him and seeing everything they did to help was such an inspiration, and seeing how many people were bonded together, raising money to find a cure, was amazing.
My husband did the Tahoe bike ride, and it was NEVER on my radar to do any endurance racing EVER. But, seeing how excited everyone was, survivors as well as fundraisers, crossing that finish line, the seed had been planted. The following year, my survivor friend Kelly Fini and I trained and ran the San Diego Rock 'n' Roll half marathon together as part of Team In Training (TNT). She is such an inspiration to me and I am honored to say that we crossed that finish line together, holding hands victoriously!!! The next year we trained for a triathlon.
In the mean time a young girl in West Des Moines was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). While I had never met this beautiful child, her name kept coming up everywhere I turned. I felt like God was sending me a message! I had many connections to her and I felt compelled to do something for her. So, I reached out, as a complete stranger, to her mom and asked if I could train for the triathlon in honor of Ashley. Every grueling mile I kept telling myself this is for Ashley! And, because I have a special place in my heart for kids, I keep Ashley, Joey and all the children who are battling or who have SURVIVED, in my thoughts as I train, race, and fundraise.
I don’t have any family members who have been inflicted with blood cancers, but that feeling of crossing the finish line, knowing I did something to help others is a feeling that you just cannot describe to anyone. I am so proud to be a part of LLS and a TNT family of fighters, survivors and cheerleaders!