As we get ready to kick off our summer season of Team In Training, we wanted to take a moment to introduce you to a very important person. A person who inspires all of us, even now, years later. So, without further ado, meet Louie Bonpua.
Louie was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) at the age of 32. He battled CML for 4.5 years. Louie was able to live his life, but needed maintenance chemotherapy. After regaining his strength, Louie joined Team In Training in 1999 not only as an honored patient, but also as an active participant. When asked why, he said, “Because I want to show people that you can still live, even when they tell you you’re going to die.” He finished Ironman Canada in 2001 with only 3.5 minutes left before the official cutoff.
The ecstatic crowd chanted “Louie! Louie! Louie!” as he crossed the finish line. The Ironman Canada race directors were so moved by his storey that they honored him with the Iron Spirit Award.
By January 2002, his condition had accelerated, but Louie pushed himself when he was asked to carry the Olympic Torch. He arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge in an ambulance and carried the torch for 0.2 miles on his own. After he passed the torch, he returned to the ambulance and made his way back to the hospital. Later that night, he would slip into a coma. Two days later on January 22, 2002, Louie passed away.
In his lifetime, Louie trained for, entered and finished nine triathlons, one courageous step at a time — and inspired hundreds of others to conquer their own personal challenges and milestones. He is a true hero and represents all that Team In Training stands for.
This August will mark the tenth anniversary of Louie’s Ironman finish, and so it is in his honor that we ask you all today, who is your Louie? Who is your inspiration, the person you think of to keep going when the miles start to get tough, when you feel like giving up? Whose story gives you the strength to face your own challenges?
Our exciting summer season kicks off in just a few weeks! Don’t get left out – stop by an info meeting near you to learn more, or you can contact us, call us at (800) 482-TEAM, or email SJTNTInfo@lls.org for more info today. Go Team!