Friday, February 11, 2011

Light The Night Goes Purple by Jessica Reijmer

TNT Mentor Nicola with Mary, Jessie and Whitney.
Working for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I get an insiders view of each of our unique campaigns that play a crucial role in our mission of finding a cure and improving the quality of life for patients and their families. As a recent addition to our Light The Night department, my role is to encourage and teach participants on how to raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services programs every day, but I have never actually fundraised for anything myself.

When I was first approached about joining the TNT Disney Princess Half Marathon Team, I thought hmm maybe, but then I asked the crucial question, “Exactly how long is a half marathon?” In my mind I was thinking 6 or 8 miles, but after hearing 13.1 miles, my mind was made up or so I thought. Not being an athlete and despising even the thought of running; my immediate answer was “NO WAY JOSE!” Even after the peer pressure from my fellow co-workers, I stood firm in my decision. It was not until a meeting with the mother of our 2010 Light The Night Honored Hero, Jordan, that I began to change my mind. I thought of Jordan and every other person I have met throughout my journey at LLS. I’ve heard so many stories since I began my career at LLS; stories of hope and inspiration, stories of tremendous faith and strength, but also stories of loss and grief. Some fight and lose, but others battle and come out victorious.

On Saturday, November 13th at approximately 2pm, I decided to sign my name on the dotted line and run for a cause. Although I was determined to finish, my mind was heavily filled with self doubt. Reaching the fundraising minimum of $2,800 seemed like a very lofty goal. So let’s face it, I was really nervous. But I felt like I needed to do this. I desperately wanted to show my support for the mission and prove to myself that I could stick to my guns and finish. That was nearly 3 months ago. Today, I can tell you that because of the support of my family, friends, coworkers, coaches, my team and a few complete strangers, I have reached my fundraising goal. Not only have I reached it, I have actually increased it twice and set a new goal, which I plan to exceed!

The TNT Disney Princess Half Marathon team
Last Saturday at our GTS, I ran 12 miles for the first time in my life! Shortly afterwards I called my Mom with both tears and an enormous sense of pride. Never in a million years would I ever have thought that I could accomplish this task, but as I struggled and huffed and puffed up the hills in the cold, I remembered why I was doing this, not just for me, but for every single person who has been affected by cancer. I didn’t let my mind get the best of me! It has definitely not been an easy road. At times I swear I might have become a hypochondriac, name an injury and I have overcome it while training. I have cried, complained and not been able to move on numerous occasions. I have persevered and now I am almost at the finish line!

I have met some of the most amazing people since beginning my journey with Team In Training. This experience has touched me inside and out and opened my eyes to life’s possibilities. I could not have done it without my team and I am so excited to run in the Disney Princess Half Marathon on February 27, 2011. While I can’t say that I have fallen in love with running, I can say that I will never forget this experience and look forward to participating in future TNT events!

Jessica Reijmer, Mary Martin and Whitney Schaffner are all LLS staff that normally work on The Light The Night Walk every year. For a few months, they have also dedicated themselves to furthering our Mission by participating with Team In Training in the 2011 Disney Princess Half Marathon. Jessie, Mary and Whitney, we are so proud of you! Good luck at Disney and Go Team!

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