Carrie Norry befriended Mollie, a fellow mom at her kids’ school, through fitness, as they trained for an all-women’s triathlon. Carrie had recently moved with her growing family to Bethesda from Baltimore — where they had lived in Anneslie for four years — and Carrie had just finished nursing her third and last child.
“I knew I was finished having babies, and I wanted to do something to officially reclaim my body after the pregnancies,” Carrie explained. Training for this race with women from her daughter’s school, Carrie got to know the other moms while they worked toward their fitness goals together.
Their kids developed friendships with each other too, and the moms often discussed their wish for a kids’ version of the triathlons they entered. They never acted on the idea, however.
Then crisis struck. Mollie’s six-year-old son, Ryan, was diagnosed with leukemia.
Learning the news that your child faces a life-threatening illness is a shock to any family’s equilibrium, one with ramifications that rip through all facets of a family’s life. Ryan, Mollie and the rest of their family endured these shockwaves. They were able to cope emotionally, medically, and financially with a strong support system in place and family and friends able to assist them.
But Mollie found her family was the rare exception in this regard. She met other families and children in the cancer center, families whose struggles compounded the stress of their child’s medical crisis. Underinsured families faced financial challenges, and single parents struggled to balance work (which provided now-critically important insurance) with the extraordinary time demands of treatment.
It was clear to Carrie and Mollie that each family’s situation varied, but the result was the same: any sort of safety net for families of children with cancer was cobbled together by nurses, doctors, and social workers with woefully inadequate, or nonexistent, resources at their disposal.
Carrie, and their triathlon-training friends had found their cause, or perhaps their cause had found them: they would sponsor a kids-only triathlon, and donate its proceeds to the families in the cancer unit of Georgetown Hospital, where Ryan was treated.
What can a small group of friends accomplish together? A lot more than they originally thought, Carrie has discovered. They can support each other as they accomplish their goals, and they can set entirely new ones. After founding the organization in 2010 and officially becoming a 501(c)3 organization, Carrie continues to lead JUST TRYAN IT today.
Funds are distributed, Carrie explains, through channels set in place by JUST TRYAN IT and its hospital partners, to parents who are financially struggling. These funds pay for mortgages, utilities, groceries, and childcare so that families can focus on their sick children. In just six years, JUST TRYAN IT has organized eight races and donated over $1 million. In doing so, JUST TRYAN IT has touched the lives of thousands of healthy kids many of whom have held lemonade stands, pushed themselves to get fit, and raised awareness about pediatric cancer.
This year, JUST TRYAN IT launched its first race in Chapel Hill, NC and is now coming to Baltimore, where proceeds will benefit the families treated at the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Department at the Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Hospital.
As for Ryan? His leukemia has been in remission for four years now, and he is still running, biking, and swimming strong. He remains the face of JUST TRYAN IT and is currently in his first year of touring the country promoting pediatric cancer research for Hyundai Hope on Wheels.
Just the Facts for JUST TRYAN IT
What: A timed mini-triathlon for kids aged 6-14 to benefit families of kids with cancer. Three courses of varying lengths, and the race allows kick boards, floaties, and training wheels.
When: September 11, 2016. Parking and drop-off begins at 7:15 a.m. Race begins at 9 a.m.
Where: Park School, 2425 Old Court Road. First 100 families who register will receive on-campus parking permits. Free shuttle service for families and participants who park at LifeBridge, 2700 Quarry Lake Drive.
Who: Kids ages 6-14 (based on race day) can race. Registration is open to 225 participants. Adults and kids welcome to cheer on racers, or volunteer at the race.
Cost: $50 plus processing fee to register. In addition, each racer is asked to raise a minimum of $50 to receive their race packet and bib number. The race entry fee covers only the cost of the triathlon itself, and the triathlon is JUST TRYAN IT’s primary fundraising event of the year. Online registration at: http://justtryanit.com/our-races/baltimore-md/.
Why: a chance for kids to try a new sport, get fit, have fun, and learn about giving back to kids and families in need. Proceeds for the Baltimore race benefit children and families served by the Pediatric Hematology Oncology Department at The Samuelson Children’s Hospital at Sinai Hospital.
Which course is right for your child?
|The Mini Course||The Short Course||The Long Course|
|SWIM: 25 yards BIKE: 0.5 mile RUN: 0.5 mile||SWIM: 50 yards BIKE: 0.9 mile RUN: 1 mile||SWIM: 100 yards BIKE: 0.9 mile RUN: 2 miles|
|Suggested Ages: 6-9||Suggested Ages: 9-14||Suggested Ages: 9-14|
Need more information about the Baltimore race?
Contact Leanne Till at Baltimore@justtryanit.org or 410.415.3019.