Today’s post comes to us courtesy of Kim Yearry from Partners Morgage. Kim and her coworkers recently completed their first Team In Training event together through TNT corporate, raising over $100,000 for blood cancer research! Read on to find out what that was like!
We started out like most other companies. A young man with a dream founded Partners Mortgage in 1988, a man that we call Dan Trinidad – our CEO. Our longevity speaks to our successful track record in the mortgage industry. But like any group of people, we share the good times and the bad. We are like a family in that sense, and not too long ago, we faced an incredible loss that changed our lives forever. Yet this loss became our steadfast motivation to pull together, train for an endurance event, and raise $100,000 for a cause much greater than ourselves.
Two years ago, we lost our CEO’s wife, Mindy Trinidad, to leukemia at the age of 48. Brilliant, vivacious, loving, and beautiful, Mindy was taken from this world less than two months after her diagnosis of blood cancer.
At the beginning of this year, Dan announced a new company initiative. He clearly indicated that our overall well-being was going to be addressed. The next week, a Corporate Campaign Manager from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society was scheduled to visit. In the days prior to the meeting, we all began sharing stories of both survival and loss. It turned out that we all knew someone who had cancer. Suddenly, this was more than just about getting in shape or paying a tribute to Dan’s wife – this was about the possibility that maybe one day, no one would have to go through the excruciating pain and sorrow that we had all felt at one time or another.
When the representative from LLS arrived we were a bit skeptical and apprehensive, but ready to listen. We watched the video clip of past TNT participants, read the material, and asked lots of questions. But the overwhelming statistics (www.lls.org) forced us to remember the stories we had shared in the days prior. Learning that treatments for blood cancer were often crucial in life saving therapies for many other cancer treatments was a turning point for us. We then got excited about the events, and for the first time ever, we came to a concensus. The majority of our office really wanted to participate! We all then did an incredibly remarkable thing, and signed up right there on the spot.
OUR TEAM IN TRAINING
The thought of seeing my co-workers in spandex, and having to wear it myself, was slightly disturbing. For our first track night, I packed my baggiest pair of sweats and one of my husband’s t-shirts, and vowed to look everyone directly in the eye.
That Thursday night TNT provided a speaker on nutrition, and we met our coach–Coach Tim. As we ran two miles around the track we learned that many other participants had trained with TNT before. Everyone had a story to tell. Some had lost someone to leukemia, some had lost someone to another form of cancer, and others had picked up a flyer about LLS/TNT at the grocery store. We even met people from our industry, and realized that in addition to a smaller waistline and money towards a cure for cancer we could gain business partners and clients. The next day at work all doubt and apprehension started to fade and we willfully invested our time and energy in the journey as we realized that we might actually be doing this.
Each week TNT presented something new that we did not want to miss – a cancer survivor (honoree) a core specialist, a foam roller clinic. These new and informative topics inspired us. Despite the in climate weather we were expected to be at our trainings “rain or shine”. It motivated us to see that even the people sitting out at water stops at 7am on Saturday morning were smiling – so how could we not? Plus, the feeling of going home soaked after a 3 mile run was exhilarating…leaving your comfort zone, giving yourself permission to try and succeed at something became a new addiction.
OVER THE HUMP
As we got into our fundraising groove, Thursday trainings continued and we attended distance trainings every other Saturday. Fridays, we held each other accountable for practice the next morning. Even on the OYO’s (on your own weekends), we all asked each other what we were planning. The new Monday morning question was “How far did you go? What trail did you do?”
Another funny thing happened in all of this…boundaries bobbed and weaved in new places. Even in a new industry, I became a resource to loan officers that had been in the business for 30 years – but needed help with a fundraising letter or cookie recipe. People from different departments suddenly realized they had the same running pace, and walking together for 8-10 miles on the weekends leaves almost no conversational territory uncharted. Lunch hour trips to Running Revolution became weekly, and sharing electrolyte tablet flavors was the new symbol of friendship. When it came time to fill out roommate assignments for the trip, no one was left out and the combinations were comical – in a good, unexpected way.
Before we knew it, teammate by teammate, we hit our fundraising minimums. We each cheered each other on, congratulated each other when that total was met, and then became determined to get just $500 more. What had once been our biggest obstacle was now our greatest accomplishment. Plus, the weather was getting better, the trainings were less rainy, and we had expanded our social circles at track to include friends we had made on the team, plus our manager, coaches and mentors. Most importantly, we continued to meet honorees and people that reminded us that life was a gift and that cancer is not a death sentence. The hope that one day, all patients could be survivors is what kept us going on the days when we felt challenged by life and physically exhausted.
Because we enjoyed the journey so much, it felt that race day was creeping up on us way too fast. In preparation, we decorated our jerseys with the names of our honorees in glitter and puff paint…
NO FEAR JUST FINISH
When our alarm went off on race day at 3am (yes – 3am), I had a five minute panic. I was tired (it was early), I was scared (what if I couldn’t finish!), and I was too anxious to even eat. But when I arrived downstairs at 3:30 am, it was like entering a purple kingdom. We were surrounded by lavender tu-tus, purple ponytails, thousands of familiar TNT race jerseys, honoree pictures and names around every corner and pom-poms. We posed for every picture with a huge smile despite the early hour, and anxiously waited to board the shuttle to the start line.
Several port-a-potty stops later, we found ourselves in our corral, amidst a line-up with 31,000 people from around the country. While people of all ages, causes, and abilities were there, the sea of purple dominated the crowd in color and in enthusiasm. Once we started running, we were more excited by the fans than by the bands. Hundreds of people rallied in every street block, standing out in the sun, cheering for total strangers who had invaded their neighborhood. We felt like we made a ton of friends every mile. Volunteers at water stops were fighting to pass out drinks and top off our water bottles. Pictures and names of survivors, and of those who had been lost, were our inspiration to not only keep going in the heat, but to smile and celebrate being alive .
Crossing the finish line hand-in-hand with my husband, joined by my teammates, was one of the greatest moments of my life. The only two things that pass it are our wedding day, and the journey that made it possible for us to complete an endurance event for a cause. This may have been our first half-marathon, but it will definitely not be our last. Not only do we feel great physically, but we feel blessed emotionally.
There are so many times when someone you love is sick and hurting, and you feel completely helpless. This is not one of those times. This is one of those times where someone you love might be sick, they may be hurting, or they may be gone – but you are choosing to do something about it. We felt empowered by our fundraising, encouraged by the goodness in the human spirit of all the people that we met, and determined to keep fighting the good fight. You always hear the expression “pick your battles.” Well, I think we found one worth winning. One of our teammates, Connie, once said “Cancer does not stop, and neither will we.” But you can’t stop if you don’t ever start.
We started out like many other companies. Although smaller than most, we finished #4 in the nation for corporate teams that season. We completed something that we did not even know was possible in so many ways. You can try to imagine what it is like to train with a team for cancer research, you can imagine what it feels like to race with 31,000 people, you can imagine what it feels like to have a random leukemia survivor sit at your lunch table and say thank you…or you can get out there and see for yourself.