Written by Elizabeth Ergle. Six associates at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta joined the fight against Leukemia and other blood cancers, and together, raised nearly $30,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. We did it to help all affected by these diseases, but one brave little boy named Nate helped us understand the very personal battles these patients fight each day.
In August, I approached General Manager Scott Stuckey with the idea of putting together a corporate Team in Training (TNT) team. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) is the world’s largest endurance sports training program. Participants raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services in exchange for training and travel support for the event of their choice including marathons, half marathons, triathlons and cycling events. Whether a novice or an experienced athlete, TNT provides coaching, clinics, support and inspiration to cross the finish line. Since it’s inception in 1988, over 540,000 participants have raised over $1.32 billion for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s mission.
Scott loved the idea and there was a lot of interest around the hotel, and so after about four weeks, Team Omni was formed. Scott’s cousin Tim also joined the team. His seven-year-old son, Nate, had been fighting leukemia for more than three years, and he became Team Omni’s patient hero.
On October 7, 2009, four year-old Nate was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Within a couple of weeks of his diagnosis, Nate endured a spinal tap, blood transfusion, platelet transfusion, a bone marrow aspiration and his first of many chemotherapy injections. Three years later, he went through his last spinal chemo treatment on January 16… days before Team Omni raced in San Antonio.
Despite all that he’s gone through, Nate is a fun-loving first-grader. He loves to play soccer, just like his dad (a soccer coach). He also likes to play baseball and jump on the trampoline with his brothers. He enjoys school and any opportunity he has to be a typical seven year-old boy.
The final participants included six managers who committed not only to training for a half marathon but to fundraising $3,300 each. In addition to individual fundraising efforts, such as writing letters to friends and family, the team organized several group fundraisers: happy hour events, dine-arounds and even a holiday shopping fundraiser. Our most successful fundraising event was a Facebook Silent Auction where we raised $2,770!
Training for the race was as challenging as it was fun. For six months, we lived by the training schedule provided by Coach Joe Watkins. We ran five days/week, and our long runs were done as a group on Saturday mornings … at 8:00 a.m., the most memorable of which may be the 10-mile Saturday morning ran in 27-degree weather. A few of the Team Omni participants have never really run before, so each mileage increase was a new achievement that brought us all closer.
On Friday, January 25th, Team Omni arrived in San Antonio for race weekend (of course, we stayed at the Omni La Mansion del Rio). Weekend activities included team dinners, race shirt decorating and nail painting…everyone had to have TNT purple nails! We were up at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday morning to prep for the race. Six hours and 13.1 miles later, we had all successfully crossed the finish line where Nate was waiting for us. It was a long journey to the end, but we knew the pain of running was nothing compared to the three-and-a-half years Nate has endured chemotherapy treatments, spinal injections and bone marrow transplants.
On January 16th, Nate received his final chemotherapy injection, and he’ll receive his final chemo pill on February 2nd.
He is truly our hero.
Team Omni – Scott Stuckey (General Manager), Angela Roberts (Assistant Director of Convention Services), Rey Struttmann (Assistant Director of Convention Services), Keita Suzuki (Revenue Manager), Stephanie Mahaffey (Convention Services Coordinator), Elizabeth Ergle (Marketing Manager), Tim Stuckey (High School Science Teacher in Illinois).
If you’re interested in helping Nate and Team Omni’s fundraising effort, go here.
|Written by by Elizabeth Ergle, Omni Hotels & Resorts.
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