Muscles of iron, heart of gold
In January of 2005, Mountain View resident Christina Davis had the same New Year's resolutions many of us have — lose weight, get in shape, meet new people, and, now that she was an "adult" with a "real job," give money to charity.
Coincidentally, a flyer from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training arrived in the mail that month, and Christina realized that she had found a way to reach all of these goals simultaneously.
Team in Training (TNT) is the world's largest endurance sports training program. It trains ordinary people to succeed in demanding physical events while raising funds for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research and patient services. Since 1988, TNT has helped 360,000 participants raise more than $850 million.
Christina's first event with TNT was an endurance hike in the Grand Canyon in the spring of 2005, a relatively low-key event that involved "only" 8 hours of hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back up. Addicted to the physical challenges, camaraderie, and satisfaction of raising money for a great cause, Christina then completed three half-marathons, a marathon and a triathlon over the next 2.5 years.
She is now training for one of the most grueling endurance events in the world: the Ironman. This triathlon features a 2.4 mile open-water swim followed by a 112 mile bike ride and a 26.2 mile marathon. The rigorous TNT training for the event lasts 10 months and ramps up from 15 hours per week of training to 25 hours per week.
In addition to these practices, Christina spends a couple hours per week fundraising. All TNT participants have a fundraising minimum: 25 percent of it covers the cost of training, transportation, lodging, etc. for the participant, and the other 75 percent goes to leukemia and lymphoma research. Christina's minimum for the Ironman is $8,000.
For Christina's first event, she was able to meet and exceed her fundraising goal simply by asking friends, family and co-workers to contribute. However, when she participated in her second event later that year, she was reluctant to ask the same people for donations again so soon, so she had to start getting creative with fundraising.
All TNT participants are in a mentor group of four to seven people, and these teams often do group fundraising events. Christina has participated in several such events, which often require months of planning. The most successful fundraiser she helped organize was a bachelor/bachelorette auction for her triathlon last spring.
That event featured TNT "celebrities" (mostly coaches and team managers), who were auctioned off at prices ranging from $100 to $750. Combined with proceeds from a raffle and the admission fees, the event raised $8,200. In true TNT spirit, the organizers then allocated the funds to recognize the efforts of all those involved: event organizers, bachelors and bachelorettes who were TNT members, and certain cancer survivors who train with TNT all received contributions to help reach their fundraising minimums.
Christina emphasizes that prior to TNT she was not an endurance athlete, and believes that with TNT almost anyone can achieve success. In fact, Christina's mother, inspired by her daughter, joined her in training for and running the Nike Women's half-marathon last fall. Several of Christina's friends have also joined TNT.
TNT's spring training is just beginning. The next local information meeting and kick-off is Saturday, Feb. 2 in Foster City. Go to HikeForDiscovery.org to learn about charity hikes of varying difficulty levels, and go to TeamInTraining.org to learn about other endurance events.
If you would like to contribute to Christina's fundraising for her Ironman, go to www.active.com/donate/tntsvmb/ironxina.
Jennifer Pence lives in Mountain View. She is founder of the Windmill Giving Circle and founder and owner of Academic Springboard, a tutoring group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.