Crowie vs. Eggers, the kick off

October 16, 2012

Today was my favorite day in Hawaii so far.

If you are new to this scene…… last April I challenged Lance Armstrong to a duel in the pool when he came to the University of Buffalo to give a speech. I volunteer for an organization called Teens Living With Cancer. I am their fitness coach and I helped run a fitness program for teens who are finishing chemotherapy.

Teens Living With Cancer is a small organization in Rochester NY. When I say small I mean two person. They do their best to scratch by and help serve the forgotten age group. The 13-18 year olds who don’t have a targeted program like pediatric cancer or for those over 18.

Through that duel in the pool with Armstrong we have raised now $90,000. That’s the short story. If you’d like the details, head over to the search bar to the right and type in Teens Living With cancer. You can read that race report right here.

Fast forward to August. We sent a tweet to Ironman World Champ Chris McCormack asking if he’d be interested in a kick off when I came to Kona this October. He accepted, got in touch and then vanished. At the same time he made the decision to come back to Kona, so we thought maybe he’d be too busy. Never heard from him. Understandably. He’s a busy guy.

Two nights ago a few of us came up with the idea of challenging three time Ironman Champ Craig Alexander…. Crowie. He had a rough day in Kona this year and triumphed to the finish line. He finished out of the top ten. As age groupers….. we learn a lot from that. Not that winning is easy….. but losing after you have won here three times….. that’s hard. Many drop out when they realize it isn’t in the cards. Crowie…… he sticks it out and plays the cards he is dealt.

I get really nervous about this type of stuff. I know I don’t seem it. These guys are busy and everyone wants their attention. I am really adamant on never bothering them if I see them out in public. They have sponsorship things to do, training to get in and most importantly family to spend time with. I refuse to disturb them at a restaurant, I refuse to approach them on the street….. I have strong feelings about respecting their privacy. I never imagined in my wildest dreams that Crowie would have the time or the interest to kick off. What could Teens Living With Cancer possibly mean to this guy? He probably doesn’t even KNOW where Rochester NY is (who would?).

In the same breath, I think about the teens I work with at Teens Living With Cancer. There is nothing, and mean nothing I would not do for them. If it means putting myself out there….. I can do that. I got on CNN in my damn bathing suit…. and that’s fine. Becasue if I can somehow use my voice and my platform to help this organization keep going and keep doing…. then I have to. As a nurse I have taken care of too many of them who have not made it. Who need this.

Our marketing director Mary Miller … lucky for me….. lives in Bolder and knows all these guys. She offered to get in touch. He accepted. I reached out to our friends at IMAthlete. They had a page up and ready to go in seconds. Check it out here.

At 8am Monday morning we got the word. Meet Crowie at the pool at 9:30. We pushed go on the link to the IMAthlete page. To Teens Living With Cancer ANY amount is a big amount. Whether we raised $10 or $100 that is big money to them. Anything we’d raise would be more than what we came here with.

When we arrived at the pool Crowie’s incredibly lovely wife was there and came over to greet us. She is a nurse and we got talking about what this was all for and she immediately resonated with it. She’s been there too.Sometimes it takes understanding what it means from the inside to understand my why. I really…. really enjoyed speaking with her.

Crowie arrived just a few minutes later and was just incredible.

Crowie, Mary Miller and I

He had heard all about the prior kick off with Mr. Armstrong and was incredibly interested to hear what Teens Living With Cancer was all about. He was stunned to learn how much money we had raised and he understood the size of the organization (two people run the show). I told him that in the hour since we put up the link for him….. $1,000 had already been donated.

I can’t say he didn’t throw the race…… but he did make me work for it, as you will see in the video shortly. If I have learned anything from these guys is that they raise the bar and they make you want to rise to it. They are willing to help but they want to teach you to work. He made me work and trust me….. I did.

He was a lot of fun.

Here is the video. The sound is not awesome, it seems to work well if you plug in headphones for the interview. Notice his reaction when we tell him how much money we raised by April 29th. This is something I will treasure for a lifetime.

After the race we hung around the pool and the kids played with Dad while I spoke with his wife some more. I hope I was able to express to her how thankful I was for them lending their family time to us.

“That took a whole 5 minutes.” she smiled, “Of course we would help.” She and Crowie really acted like this was a no brainer. That meant so much to me….. I am sure they are asked for things all of the time and their time is very valuable.

To us at Teens Living With Cancer…… it really feels like this whole year has been our Cinderella story. The carriage will turn back into the pumpkin at some point but we are going to try to ride this wave as long as we can. So many of you have lent your help in the form of donations, sharing the word on social media, and many other ways. To tell you how grateful I am, we are…. is such an understatement.

This is who you are helping.

You are helping a mother keep a promise to her daughter. Melissa died twelve years ago, and she asked her mother… Lauren (the founder of Melissa’s Living Levagy / Teens Living With Caner) to promise that she would make it better for other Teens who have to endure what she did.

Please read Melissa’s story here.

Lauren…… has been working to keep that promise ever since. With more bravery and courage than I can fathom. I don’t know how you go on after losing a child. I don’t know how you face every day much less build what she’s built in the face of such loss.

This is Melissa. She died in 2000.

To this organization…… $10 is big money. Teens Living With Cancer focuses on the forgotten age group. The 13-18 year olds who have been left out. TLC reaches out to this age group to give each teen who has to live and face this….. somewhere to go. Someone who understands. So that they are not alone during the most impressionable years of their lives.

What were you doing at 16? They weren’t. They knew the four walls of a hospital room and they learned what chemotherapy was.

So Crowie…..  we can’t believe you stepped up to help us. We are so grateful you gave of your time. We are honored to add your name to the many who care. It’s not about the kick off, that’s just the cover story. We are now up to $1,500 online…. because you were willing to give your time and your name. It’s amazing the power of a name and someone who cares.

Thank you, Neri and your beautiful children for helping us. It means more to us than we can express. It was a HUGE deal that you stepped forward.

Thank you as well to Mary Miller, Tim Snow, Charlie Abrahams, Matt Curbeau, Molly Zahr, my amazing colleagues and teammates at QT2 Systems… for continuing to help me reach. Thank you to Morgan from All3Sports for your support (please get that iPhone screen fixed!!). Thank you to TYR for the awesome custom goggles. To Fuel Belt and Quintana Roo for your continued support. And thank you to IMAthlete for your patience and hard work in setting up our fundraising page.

Thank you to the Kona Aquatic Center for allowing us the use of your pool.

This was an event that I will not soon forget. Not because I got to kick off against Crowie…… but because once again I was witness to the beauty of people. The willingness of others to help in any way they can.

Thank you for allowing me….. to use my platform of sport to help a mother keep a promise to her daughter.

Thank YOU all for donating. You can still donate! Click here! THANK YOU!

Of course I won!!! I am undefeated!



  1. Congrats on your undefeatedness in kick-offs! ☺ I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and interact with a bunch of pro triathletes – Crowie included – and almost universally they are awesome people! That he would give up some time to come and help you raise money doesn’t surprise me at all. Very proud of you for the work you’re doing with Teens Living With Cancer.

    Next challenge: Get Phelps in the pool with you for a kicking contest!

  2. Powerful story Mary. Thank you for sharing and for being a beacon of light and faith to so many! These Ironmen and Ironwomen are amazing people. Thanks to you and Crowie! I do know where Rochester NY is! I’m from New Paltz, NY and we travel to Rochester every April for Eastern Zones (an elite age-group swim meet.) My brain is already spinning trying to think of something my swimteam/swimmers can do to support Teens With Cancer. We just had a swim-a-thon to raise money for the American Cancer Association as we had two recent graduates of our swim program diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. I think the swim-a-thon help provide our children with a great lesson—working hard and digging deep for something greater than yourself. Keep up your amazing work Ironmama. You’re in inspiration and your dedication is infectious. Erin Quinn

  3. you are awesome.

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