Running With Purpose

Two Sundays ago, many New Orleans residents spent their morning cheering on friends, family members, and co-workers as they raced to complete the Rock n Roll Mardi Gras Marathon and 1/2 Marathon. For many of the participants, this is an annual event, and for some, the accomplishment of a long sought-after goal. For members of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Team in Training (TNT), the race had a much greater purpose.

I was fortunate enough to spent much of my morning in the finishing tent with members of the Mississippi/Louisiana chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training. For those who are not familiar with this organization, LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. Team in Training is the most successful fundraising campaign for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The TNT program trains participants to run or walk a full or half marathon, while the participants agree to raise funds. The funds generated are used to support blood cancer research globally, and provide support services and education.

As a physical therapist, I have had the opportunity to work with the TNT runners for several seasons. I have watched people begin the program as novice runners and cross the finish line signed up for their next long distance event.  The Team in Training coaches and mentors are never short on encouragement, and because you are training in a group setting, there is always another runner that is on a similar fitness level. Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of running with TNT is when you meet the individuals, whose lives have been changed because of the medical research LLS has helped to fund.

The TNT tent was bustling with competitors, LLS staff and volunteers, but perhaps the most energetic presence in the tent came from a nine year-old boy named Quentin Murray. Quentin is this season’s Honored Hero. Quentin was originally diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) July of 2008. Because of recent gains in research Quentin was able to receive a stem-cell transplant March 28, 2008 with cells taken from his newborn sister’s umbilical cord and placenta. Today Quentin is in remission, running and chasing his baby sister like any other healthy boy his age. His physicians are optimistic about his prognosis for the future. Quentin is just one example of the millions of people benefitting from the work of this organization.

Participating in road races is a good way to stay motivated and keep you focused to reach a goal. However, consider how much more motivated you will be if you are training and raising funds to cure cancer, or fight autism or Alzheimer’s. Find a cause you are passionate about and incorporate that in your journey when you commit to your next long distance running endeavor.

If you’d like to learn more about Quentin and his miraculous story, go here.

Taryn Cohn MSPT, COMT