Today I want to share with you why I chose to run my fifth season with Team in Training this year.
I am not asking you for donations, I just want to share this story.
I fundraise for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) once a year. I raise money while training for an event. Last year I raised money whilst training for the San Antonio Half Marathon, but I also had the opportunity to meet up with my TNT friends in Alaska (yes, ALASKA) and San Francisco.
Well, this year I am training for the San Diego Half Marathon on June 3rd. My motto is to kick cancer in the butt. This year we have a team within the Team.
Team Ruben. We are raising $200,000 for a grant in memory of Ruben. I met Ruben briefly at a fundraiser in 2009. He was a great friend of our coach Stephanie (who has coached me to cross the full marathon finish line in San Francisco in 2009 and several other races since). Please read Ruben’s story in her words:
Team Ruben isn’t just a normal TNT group… it’s a band of friends forming a family to rally in memory of an amazing person… Ruben Garza… this one’s for you!!
Ruben was diagnosed when he was 25 years old, underwent both – a bone marrow and stem cell transplant, and spent a lot of time living life “normally” (not going through treatments). He actually joined TNT in 2004 and participated in the Cap Tex Tri and he was amazing. He was a terrific teammate, an avid supporter and above all, the best friend anyone could ask for. He valued life in a way that most of us dream about.
Ruben loved music, especially Pearl Jam & U2, so he always told us to “live life with the volume turned up loud.” He danced through life showing us how to appreciate the moment and listen to the world around us. Because of him, we’re training and most importantly, fundraising to find the cures for blood cancers.
He had a type of blood cancer that was “uncurable” and yet he defied the odds (no doubt thanks to research funded by LLS and the continuous development of new therapies) and LIVED for a solid 12 years before it began to truly turn on him. Most people never thought of him as being sick, much less someone with a potentially deadly disease. He never did either.
In February of 2010, Ruben told friends he wasn’t well. He said he was literally fighting to live. Luckily, months earlier, he met the love of his life and she made him fight… she gave him purpose and reason and the desire to hang on. (THANKS JEN!!) And she was the binding force that spoke up and the reason we all banded together, and with the help of friends and a fundraiser, he entered a clinical trial and the odds were good. Ruben and Jen got married in November 2010 and it was a spectacular celebration and we’ve never seen Ruben happier. Life was good… life was expected. Unfortunately, the 12 years of treatments caught up to Ruben and his body began to fail… his organs were exhausted and started to give up. We knew this day was coming, yet, somehow you are never quite prepared.
In a letter to friends and family, Ruben wrote:
There is time left. I am alive. Others call it dying; I’ve only ever known to call it living. If you see me, see me, the life. Our time under the sun should not want an umbrella, but instead let’s look up, get dizzy, go blind with life. Our time under the rain should not want an umbrella, but instead let’s look up, get soaked, and drink up life.
Ruben passed on October 12, 2011 with his wife, Jen, by his side. He went peacefully, as expected. You see, Ruben had this quality about him that exuded peace, acceptance and faith. He taught us how to believe in not only ourselves, but others and the bigger reason we all exist. He is and will always be a miracle… an angel on earth put here to show us how to truly live life.
I hope this inspired you to consider running with Team in Training (or for any other charity really). I know a lot of you already do and I strongly believe that with these small acts on our part we can make a difference!
We won’t always know whose lives we touched and made better for our having cared, because actions can sometimes have unforeseen ramifications. What’s important is that you do care and you act.
~ Charlotte Lunsford