Friday, March 23, 2012

Jennie Brewster encourages Savannah team to better health and lifelong friendships by Brandy Mai

That's Jennie on the far left with a group of Team In Training alumni in Savannah.

Did you feel the earth move and shake last November as Savannah hosted its inaugural Rock ‘n Roll marathon?

As 23,000 people ran through the brick-lined streets of a town filled with “hey y’all” and laissez faire attitude, a sea of purple could be seen in the masses: all the people who were running the race for Team In Training. What one couldn’t see, though, is an important person who was handling everything behind the scenes for the Savannah team.

Her name is Jennie Brewster (and yes, she’s just as spunky and great as her name sounds), and without her, the Savannah team would’ve been lost amongst the sea of runners.

Jennie began working for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in April 2007 and immediately fell in love with Team In Training. “TNT is a win-win program. I love that it raises money for much needed cancer research and patient services. However, I also love that it allows people to reach out of their comfort zones and accomplish things they may only have dreamed of doing,” she said. “I hope they gain better health, an active lifestyle, increased self-confidence and lifelong friendships.”

From waking up early for group runs just to greet everyone at the finish line to hosting social events in her own home, Jennie was the parent who held the team together. She was always so involved with the team, everyone was shocked to learn she had never completed a TNT event herself.

“Funny thing, everyone thinks that because I work for TNT, I’ve done plenty of marathons. I have completed some sprint triathlons, 5K and 10K races on my own but the truth is, I’ve never done a TNT event! While I do train with the team throughout the season, my focus is on getting everyone else to the finish line. If I were focused on getting myself there, I wouldn’t be able to give my full attention to our Team in Training participants,” she explained.

Jennie and her husband
working a water stop.

Despite focusing her efforts on the team and not training for the races herself, Jennie still has loved ones whom she “runs” to honor. “There are so many people in my life who have been touched by cancer, the list is too long. Collin J. Huggins will always hold a special place in my heart. Collin lost his battle with ALL at the age of six in 2003. He loved Spiderman, had an adorable country accent, learned to read and lived to see his baby brother be born. He touched more people than his parents will ever know”.

Her dedication to loved ones, positive attitude and refreshing spirit are what got everyone to the finish line that day in November. Having her in their corner and knowing she would be waiting at the TNT tent with hugs (and water) helped everyone complete their event and come together as a family at the end. Without her, the Savannah team would not have been the same nor would we have come together as such a family.

Jennie doesn’t consider what she does a job. Rather, she considers the team her family and loves being at the finish line on race day. “I LOVE watching ‘my’ participants complete their events – cheering for everyone on the race course is one of the best parts of my job.”

Brandy Mai ran her first half marathon with Team In Training for the inaugural Rock ‘n Roll Savannah event last year. She runs in memory of her dear friend, James Hall, and in honor of her cousin, Gunner Murphy.

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