Wednesday, February 5, 2014

20 Years of Team In Training in North Texas: 2011

2014 is a special year for the North Texas Team In Training (TNT) campaign.  It is celebrating 20 years of running, biking, and hiking to raise money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and it's mission to find a cure for blood cancers.  Saturday, Feburary 8th TNT will kick off a year of celebrating.  To honor the thousands of North Texas TNT alumni and the millions of dollars they raised in that time, we are going to count down each year of the program leading up to the TNT Alumni "Celebrate You" event on Feburary 8th. 

Team In Training started as a physical challenge and way to honor her grandfather for Misty Harris but quickly turned into so much more.  After she competed her first event, she joined the North Texas TNT staff and quickly worked her way up to become the program director.  She was instrumental in setting the course for the chapter.  While she is no longer a staff member, she remains dedicated to raising awareness of TNT and the mission of LLS to find a cure for blood cancers.

What is your favorite memory of TNT?
There are so many amazing memories for me but you can never reenact the emotional cry fest that takes place when you cross the finish line of your first Team In Training event. I was graduating from college during that first month of training and with no family living in town, my team truly became my family. My coach cared about what I did on a weekly basis and paid his own way to see us complete the Vancouver Marathon. My staff member helped me get my first job out of college with The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My mentor always made sure I knew of fundraising opportunities which helped me switch to a different event with a higher fundraising minimum. I became so incredibly close with some of my teammates and have been to their weddings or planned their baby showers. This was my first interaction with our incredible Honored Heroes that were just children at the time and I immediately knew my heart was going to be invested in this organization for years to come.  So much took place in those five months of preparation that crossing the finish line means so much more than a medal and a t-shirt.

What brought you to TNT originally?
I worked at a hair salon part time and while checking the mail, I saw a Team In Training brochure. I had never heard of TNT or LLS but my grandfather had passed away almost exactly one year to that day from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I picked up the phone and called the number to ask how to join. Ryan (the staff person who answered), told me there was an information meeting in Irving that night or I could pick one closer to home on another day since I lived in Arlington. I didn’t hear anything else he said as I asked to leave work early and headed to Irving where I had tears in my eyes as I turned in my registration form. I don’t know if the tears were from the emotional video they showed or the fact that I had just learned the marathon I signed up for consisted of 26.2 miles! 

What about TNT makes you keep coming back?
When I signed up for my first event in 2004, I thought it would be a great way to get in shape and memorialize my grandfather. Little did I know that it would be so much more. The friends that I made through this program are the most genuine people I’ve ever met. When you have this many different types of people working towards one goal, it doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is that we are changing the lives of our Honored Heroes, their loved ones and so many people we will never meet. You can’t get that anywhere else!

What do you want to see in the next 20 years for TNT in North Texas?
Purple everywhere! I believe the strong relationships of the past can continue to be our relationship builders of TNT’s future. Citizens of North Texas won’t be able to walk out of a bike shop, run store or gym without knowing who Team In Training is and what we’ve done for cancer. There will be a cure and the participants will raise money to support the financial aspect of getting treated or identifying genes that may cause cancer to prevent it!

What was the best part of the 2011 San Diego Rock N Roll Marathon?
The best part of the San Diego Rock N’ Roll Marathon was fundraising and training for this event with my husband! Well, he was my fiancé at the time but we met through Team In Training in 2006 and this was the first time we did the same event together. San Diego is such a beautiful city to do marathon at and plan a vacation around at the same time. For the last 15 years this race has partnered with LLS and raised over $171 million! It’s definitely a race you have to experience knowing how supportive they are of Team In Training participants and LLS. The race itself has an incredible expo and the bands are a treat along the course. 

How many events have you done with TNT?
I’ve completed eight events with TNT!
2005 Vancouver Marathon , 2006 Country Music Half Marathon, 2007 America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, 2008 Lonestar Half Ironman, 2008 Nation’s Triathlon, 2009 Nike Women’s Half Marathon, 2011 San Diego Half Marathon, 2012 Solvang Century

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