My Cause and Thank You

Last night I was honored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as their Team in Training “Volunteer of the Year”. I have to say that the concept of receiving this award completely took my breath away. For many years I have been a big advocate of tying athletics with charitable causes. I have done events like the American Cancer Society’s and the MS rides for years. They started out simply as fun and cool ways to do events.

Initially I really didn’t have too many personal connections with any of the causes that I participated in but over time, I developed many. That made the events that much more meaningful. But then on February 24, 2006 I was given a whole new reason to tie athletics with a cause and a better understanding of why we do these things. On that Friday afternoon in February, sitting in the office of an oncologist that I had known for one all of week, I was given a cause I can call MY OWN … My very own personal diagnosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia – yeah me !

It was a cause that would forever change me and it wouldn’t take long to realize that it changed me for the better. It’s a cause that the more I sink my teeth into it, the healthier I would be, as would hundreds of thousands of others, and the longer I would live. How powerful of a motivator is that ? It’s like controlling your own destiny.

Oh and by the way, not only do I get be healthier and to live longer, I get to spend time talking, teaching, mentoring, and coaching beginner triathletes and enriching their lives as well. That’s not volunteer work – that’s paradise. So, becoming involved with TNT within days of my diagnosis required absolutely no thought at all. That direction was chosen for me.

The people that I have met along the way have been unbelievable. Survivors …… family of survivors, athletes, coaches, so many other volunteers all working towards a common goal. I get so much out of doing what I do. Thant’s why I feel like I should be paying someone for what I do…. Not being rewarded for it.

LLS and TNT really are like extended family to me…. My fellow coaches and I clown around like brothers and really enjoy each other’s company. Our Campaign Coordinators are the sisters we like to pick on but heavily lean on, and Executive Directors are the parental figures that we try to hide all of our antics from. In all seriousness, family is what keeps me going everyday and I’m proud to be a part of this family.

It’s with everything within me that I thank everyone very sincerely for last night’s recognition. And I look forward to many many more years and miles and races.

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