Saturday, May 10, 2008

A call to arms, and legs for Kelly

Today was the kickoff meeting for the upcoming Team in Training fall season. I gave the welcome on behalf of the chapter board and also took the opportunity to explain my connection to the program. There were about 200 participants at the meeting. Approximately 30 in the Triathlon group, 15 cyclists and the rest being marathoner's and 1/2 marathoners.

The Team in Training program is vital to the fundraising efforts of the society. The Rocky Mountain chapter will raise 3.2 millions dollars this year with half of that coming from the TNT program.

I can't remember everything I talked about, it is kind of a blur. I had mentally rehearsed for days what I wanted to say, had even tried to write more of a formal speech. I never end up liking when I write about my feelings for Kelly. I never feel like I can do justice to her story in just a few minutes. I decided this morning to leave what I had prepared at home and speak spontaneously and let that take me wherever it led.

Here is my attempt at a recap of my talk from this morning.

Welcome to Team in Training. You are about to embark on a life changing experience. I wanted to share a little bit about why this is important to me, the connection that I have.

I never quite know where my emotions might take me as I am up here talking. This is the first time I have spoken at a kickoff meeting since my patient hero passed away on March 17 after almost a 12 year battle against cancer. It feels different now, no less important, but it does feel different.

I came to Team in Training 9 years ago. I had no connection to the society, didn't know anyone with a blood cancer. I was so incredibly lucky to have a wonderful young girl, Kelly Grubb assigned to my group as our patient hero. Kelly was 10 years old when I first began running in her honor. I always felt so close to Kelly and was so attached to her. Over the years we shared family vacations together in Disneyland and Calgary, there is even a picture of us dancing together at her sister Marcy's wedding, one of two known pictures in existence of me dancing. My son Adam and Kelly went to prom together during her junior year. It has been such an incredibly rich experience for me and my family.

I would encourage everyone to make a connection to the mission of the society whether that be with your patient hero, a teammate, maybe a coach or your mentor. The more personal connection you build the more meaningful your experience will be.

Lets all remember that this is the day, we officially put blood cancer on notice. We intend to call in your loan and put you out on the street. We need to do this to honor Kelly's life and for anyone that is battling a blood cancer. All of us on the board and the staff for the Leukemia Society are totally committed to this. We will continue to be relentless for a cure and in our efforts to provide support and hope to those that we love and honor.

Kelly has been my hero and inspiration for the last nine years and always will be. Her courage changed my life. Knowing her has changed me forever. I love her so very much.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for coming here today, to join the fight against blood cancers. What you are doing is so important. It matters so much to me. You are all heroes to me.

Go Team!

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