Team in Training, a group that raises money toward cures for blood cancers such as leukemia, have had a terrific partnership with Lavaman in its 13 years at the event.
This year, Team in Training brought 276 people to Lavaman Waikoloa, raising $1.4 million for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“It is a big event for us,” said Tracy Evans, national director of Team in Training. “We get a lot of novice athletes, but also a lot of people who are pretty serious about racing.
“People come to us for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they have a personal connection to the cause, sometimes they want to go to Hawaii, others are finding a reason to get into triathlon. Ultimately though, all of the athletes are passionate about the common cause of fighting leukemia and lymphoma and finding a cure. That is what bonds everyone together.”
The group’s purple jerseys littered the course Sunday at Lavaman Waikoloa. As members of Team in Training crossed the finish line, they were greeted by flocks of open arms.
A special moment came at the end of the swim portion. Team in Training member Elizabeth Olson neared the shore of Anaehoomalu Bay as the final swimmer on the course. The closer she got, the louder the cheers grew, encouraging her to shore.
Carol Presley, of Sunnyvale, Calif., raced on a relay team in the event. Presley has been battling back from leukemia and went through a tough chemotherapy the last two years. She said the battle wore her down for a while, but she give up. Presley is now in remission.
“Racing with a group like this really lifts you up,” Presley said. “I was swimming with a lady from the Bay Area and we swam almost the whole way together. To participate in this, even the relay, is a huge deal for me. This has been a real monumental day and to have my friends here beside me is so special.”
Team in Training had a dinner Saturday where people and families shared their stories, which served as inspiration to many.
“We have a family here from Houston who spoke at a dinner last night,” Evans said. “Their son Luca, who is eight now, has had a really good outcome from a rare form of childhood leukemia. Both his mom and dad were racing. They said since Luca has got back from the worst of his illness, they felt there was light at the end of the tunnel and it was now their turn to give back.”
A local group racing under the Team in Training umbrella was Team Carmen. The group is dedicated to the life of Carmen Leolani White, a Hawaii youth who in October 2012 died of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Team Carmen raised $47,321 through Lavaman Waikoloa.
“Our big tagline is ‘Someday is today’,” Evans said. “We are trying to make a difference everyday. New treatments and therapies are becoming available and we promote for all of our athletes that there is simply no day like today.”
For more information, visit teamintraining.org.