When Meredith Strang Burgess, president and CEO of Burgess Advertising and Marketing, asked if anyone at her company was interested in participating in the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Tri for a Cure triathlon this year it got the attention of three women on her staff, although each had reservations.
“We knew Caitlin Conroy (who works in client relations) did the Tri last year and is doing the Tri this year, all three legs,” said Keva Crockett, web content specialist at Burgess. “We were all thinking about it. I told Danielle (Robinson), former production manager at Burgess, “I’ll do it if you do it.”
Robinson, who is now at WEX, said, “I’ll bike.”
Christina Hill, a graphic designer at Burgess said, “I’ll do anything but swim.”
“And I said, ‘I’ll swim,’” said Crockett.
With that, the BAM Gals (Burgess Advertising & Marketing) team was born.
This year will be the first time each of the three women has taken part in the triathlon, with Crockett taking on the swimming leg, Robinson the cycling, and Hill, the running portion of Tri for a Cure. And already, they all plan to do it again next year – possibly doing all three legs individually.
“I’m hoping that after this year’s leg, I will feel more motivated to work hard on my fitness and keeping healthy. If I continue to progress and push myself, I will definitely try doing the three legs alone,” said Hill. “I’ve never been in a wetsuit or swam very far into the ocean – it slightly frightens me, definitely more of a lake girl – so I’m not sure if I’ll ever overcome that. We’ll see when next year comes around.”
But personal limitations and concerns aside, each of the women is happy to be part of what they believe is an important and meaningful event.
“We all need to ‘Tri for a Cure’ for there to ever be a cure,” said Crockett. “It takes all different kinds of contributions. This event is so great in that they take the opportunity to showcase the survivors, too.”
Robinson said Tri for a Cure is a “great way to raise money for a wonderful cause, and feel empowered at the same time.”
This year’s event touched Hill on both a personal and professional level when the Maine Cancer Foundation decided, for the first time in the eight year history of the event, to re-create the packet that is given to all of the athletes. Hill was charged with the task.
“At Burgess, I design most of the creative that comes through the door. It was really inspiring to get to go through all of the past years’ images and get a feel for what it’s like,” said Hill. “This event really seems to bring a lot of women together for different reasons. Yes, most of the people participate to ‘Tri’ for a cure but I also believe it brings people together for health and fitness, for an outlet of support, to make friendships, to go outside of one’s boundaries, and to just have a good time. I think that it’s all very important.”
The women said Burgess has been supportive of their team effort, along with a number of other employees who are participating individually. Several staff members, including the CEO, came together to run in another of the Maine Cancer Foundation’s events, the Twilight 5K, which was held in June.
Preparing for a triathlon requires training, which Crockett, Hill and Robinson are taking seriously.
The women have been working separately, but spend time talking with each other about their training and look forward to practicing the relay together to get a feel for what it’s like. The team, which has set a fundraising goal of $1,500, has also set up a blog (BAM Blog) on the Tri for a Cure website, chronicling their training efforts.
“We have all joined sheJAMs and are doing the individual training segments,” said Crockett. “I took two swim clinics at Saint Joseph’s College, which were so helpful. I make sure that I swim at least twice a week and try for three times a week. I’ve been swimming in the pool since March and just started in the open water with a wet suit. I include my mom in my training as my kayak support. She and I plan to start going out more often so I can get some more open water swimming in. I’m looking forward to the continued training in the open water, but am nervous about my first ocean swim.”
Along with running, Hill has been biking for exercise to prepare for her leg in the triathlon.
“My focus has been more on preparing my body by eating healthier and increasing my water intake,” she said.
Robinson started her training with spin classes during the winter.
“I have also been training with a friend who has participated in the Tri for a Cure for the last four years,” said Robinson. “We’ve been biking the course and parts of the course on a weekly basis.”
While each woman has a personal fitness goal in training for the triathlon, Tri for a Cure goes much deeper than the physical for them.
“Tri for a Cure is very personal for me, beginning with how close breast cancer has touched my family,” said Crockett. “I have lost family members, including my aunt, and I have survivors in my family, my sister and cousin. My family has the BRCA2 gene, which is extra scary. I have also lost a friend, Denys, and had a friend, Penny, survive breast cancer. When I started with Burgess Advertising and Marketing I did not know Meredith was a survivor, too, but I have seen how much she contributes to the cause and it is an honor to work with her.”
Because of the BRCA gene Crockett is monitored very closely.
“One of the many things that I need to work on is my health and making sure that I lose weight and get back in shape,” said Crockett. “This has been a tough journey for me. When the opportunity came up to do the Tri, I decided it was a great way for me to get started on getting back in shape.”
In addition to supporting cancer research and getting herself in better health, Crockett said she has been able to conquer many of her fears about swimming.
“When I said I would swim, I was not really thinking about what I would be doing, swimming in the ocean for a third of a mile. One day it sunk in, ‘I don’t even like the deep end of the pool, uh oh,’” said Crockett. “I have worked very hard to overcome my personal obstacles to accomplish what I have done so far. I am very hopeful I will complete my swim without having to hang onto the kayaks.”
Crockett added that if by participating she is able to gather friends and family together to see how much money can be raised to help find a cure, “I will do what I need to do.”
For Robinson, Tri for a Cure means remembering friends and family lost, supporting those who are currently battling the disease and having hope that one day “we won’t have to lose any more loved ones to cancer.”
“Just a few years ago I lost a very special, bright, beautiful friend to breast cancer,” said Robinson. “It all happened so fast and so aggressively. It had a huge impact on me. I had been thinking about participating in this event for a few years but had tremendous support this year with Burgess and my co-workers who could commit to the relay with me. It was the right time. Just the training itself has been empowering. Since having two kids, I haven’t focused on exercise and taking care of myself. Training for the Tri has forced me to do so. It means prioritizing my health and my life, not just for me, but for my family.”
Although Hill has never known anyone personally that has struggled with cancer, she feels equally passionate about the cause and Tri for a Cure.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to help and support those who do battle with the disease and I hope that one day we can find a cure,” said Hill. “I guess I participated because I wanted to do more, be more, and commit to something that’s out of my comfort zone. Although I’ve been a serious slacker when it comes to training, I’m still very excited for when the day comes that I go out there with an amazing group of women to push myself and do some good.”
Meredith Strang Burgess, left, president and CEO of Burgess Advertising, along with Keva Crockett and her son Dayton Crockett, in front; Caitlin Conroy, who works in client relations at Burgess; and Andrew Kessler, a digital marketing strategist at Burgess, participated in the Maine Cancer Foundation’s Twilight 5K, which is held about a month before the Tri for a Cure. Courtesy photoKeva Crockett, left, Christina Hill and Danielle Robinson, in front, joined forces to participate in this year’s Tri for a Cure as a team. Each will take a leg of the triathlon with the hopes of raising $1,500 for Maine Cancer Foundation. Courtesy photoDanielle Robinson took spinning classes as part of her training for Tri for a Cure. Robinson will participate in the cycling portion of the triathlon. Courtesy photo