The night before the inaugural St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis, the rain came to an end as the sun set, and Coach Lloyd Henry took the stage at the outdoor St. Jude Heroes Pasta Party to inspire and motivate participants one last time.
But he didn’t just cheer the athletes. He asked everyone who was not participating to stand instead. “If it wasn’t for your support system, none of us would be able to do endurance sports,” he told the Heroes. “While we’re out racing on the weekends … they’re picking up all the slack at home and everything else that’s going on.”
The St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis is a test of the individual. But even individual athletes need a team. For every athlete participating last weekend, there was a squad of family, friends, colleagues and fellow athletes. Coach Lloyd knew it, he’s tackled his fair share of triathlons.
St. Jude is all about community. Our global fitness events are all about community.
The next morning when race participants took that first step into the water for a 1.2-mile swim, the skies opened up again and a torrential rain fell. Yet there they were: friends and family — the teams — behind the athletes. Support no matter the weather.
We see this commitment and dedication in our St. Jude supporters as well. They’re here for our kids and families despite the ups and downs in their own lives. They care for the St. Jude mission through good times and bad. Even through a pandemic.
The rain-soaked spectators cheered and encouraged and propped each other up on race day just as they had on long days, weeks and months of training.
That’s how St. Jude works as well. In fact, that’s the only way St. Jude can succeed. Together.
For every patient treated at St. Jude since we opened in 1962 there have been teams of researchers, doctors, nurses, fundraisers, donors, volunteers, family, friends and fellow patients behind them. Cheering, encouraging, caring, praying.
Just think about it, millions of people coming together as one team — one family — to ensure the best health outcome for our kids.
You are a part of that. While you may not train for a triathlon or marathon, while you may not be personally affected by childhood cancer, your support has already helped some of the sickest kids in the world.
But there is so much more to do. That’s why we cherish and cheer our St. Jude Heroes like the 156 who participated in the first St. Jude IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis. Why we’re so excited for the upcoming Rock-n-Roll Nashville Marathon in November and St. Jude Memphis Marathon Weekend in December.
“For me, it’s like you’re participating with a purpose,” said St. Jude Hero Andrew John. “You’re not just going out here to try to set a (personal record) to have a good day or have fun. You’re doing it with the kids of St. Jude and the families of those kids.”
Participating with a purpose. This is why you’re our heroes.
We look forward to seeing our St. Jude Heroes again next year for the second running of the IRONMAN 70.3 Memphis. We’re hoping for good weather, of course, but we know our supporters will be with us whether it’s dark clouds or sunny skies.