This past weekend about 250 teams competed in RAGNAR Tennessee, a 196-mile relay run from Chattanooga to Nashville.
Three of those 12-person teams ran for T.R. Keith: 36 cancer fighters who called T.R. their friend, son, brother, or husband. T.R ran out of time with his cancer battle this past April.
I have the pleasure of working with our Grassroots Fundraisers at the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The best part of my job is attending the events and meeting people like T.R.’s family and friends. People who support our mission, and are inspired by those battling this terrible disease. The energy and passion of those who have done so much, and have given so much to be a part of something bigger, recharges me like nothing else. This weekend was no different. I wish I had the words to describe what events like this mean to not only me, but also the participants – and why these weekends are really special.
I did not know T.R. personally, but if the people he surrounded himself with are any reflection of the person he was, then he was nothing short of an extraordinary man.
On Thursday night, Reggie Ramsey, the weekend’s organizer and T.R.’s good friend, hosted a dinner in their former college town of Sewanee. I had the opportunity to meet some of the team members and discuss their upcoming event. Although 95% of the team declared themselves as “not runners”, it didn’t matter. This weekend wasn’t about running; it was about honoring their friend. They just happened to be running – a lot. It was great to sit back and listen to the guys share stories and laughs over a great meal and a couple of beers.
On Friday the run began in Chattanooga. I volunteered in Sewanee at exchange point 11. Runners started coming in around 3:15 in the afternoon. That evening I watched T.R.’s dad, the 71-years-young Dr. Theodore Keith, run down University Ave. near where his son went to school before handing off the wrist band to the next runner in the relay. Not far behind was T.R.’s sister, Melissa. On her own, Melissa raised over $6,000 – bringing the team total to over $60,000.00!!!
The teams continued to run through the night and following day. They caught a nap when they could, ate what they could, and tried not to think about sore muscles and tired minds. RAGNAR Tennessee is not for the faint of heart. It is a serious endurance run that tests the outer limits of the mind and body for all participants.
It came as no surprise to me that the three teams that ran for T.R. completed the race.
All 36 members did their part, and they all ran for T.R. It was amazing to watch from the sidelines as this group of people came together for something so selfless as to honor someone that meant so much to them. It feels impossible to try and capture the magic of that, how special this group was – thought I suspect that most of our supporters and participants are familiar with that feeling.
I can’t thank the LIVESTRONG for T.R. teams enough for allowing me the opportunity to join their weekend. I know their story will allow others to take inspiring action in the face of adversity. And to keep moving in memory of the ones they love.