Team in Training has become so wildly successful that it is now the number-one trainer of marathon runners in the U.S.
In addition to training, the society provides transportation, lodging, and entry fees for the events. For their part, participants raise funds - an average of $3,200 - to fight leukemia, Hodgkin's disease, multiple myeloma, and lymphoma.
"The more I thought about [participating in Team in Training], the more I realized that it was a way to do two things I've been wanting to do for a while: get back on the bike, and thus back in shape, and find a way to really help people," says George Crawford, whose Knoxville, Tennessee, team competed in the Santa Fe Century bike ride last summer. "I've long realized that I've been far more fortunate than so many others, and I just wanted to find a way to try to bring others up to that level and beyond, if I can."
Perhaps the most rewarding part of participating in Team in Training is the association that each team has with its "honored patient," someone suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, or other related disorders. The society's Web site is filled with stories like Joanna Polack's: "For me, a patient after a bone marrow transplant, my experience was that I did what I had to do, there was no way but forward, choosing life. Now there are so many things that I consider being 'gifts of cancer.' One is being part of the Team in Training and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Having someone run or cycle for you and almost with you gives me a lot of hope, and hope means that I believe I have a chance to overcome leukemia. Seeing people who are not patients helping people with cancer makes a huge difference.
Having people train on behalf of patients shows that cancer doesn't have to be isolating and living with it doesn't have to be about pain and fear. What Team in Training brings is a little bit of normalcy instead of fear."