TeamConnor and the Cruse family have had a special place in Tonya and I’s heart since Connor was first diagnosed back in 2005. I still remember where I was sitting when Tait called me to tell me about Connor’s diagnosis. I felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do. Back then, several friends from Northwestern Mutual and I ran a relay race in New Hampshire called Reach the Beach. The year Connor was diagnosed, we ran in his honor. The following year, as Joy and Tait became more aware of the pediatric cancer landscape – and the lack of funding for research – they formed TeamConnor Childhood Cancer Foundation. This gave me a goal – a way I could help. I reached out to my NM friends to raise money to assist in the fight against childhood cancer. The following year we moved the relay to our house. We had Northwestern Mutual Reps and Northwestern Mutual Home Office employees flying in from all over the country to stay at our house and run 5 mile legs morning, noon, and night over the course of 3 days until we reached our 500 mile goal. We had blow up beds all over the house. There were drivers who followed each runner to keep them safe. People ran with headlamps. Tait and Joy would always come out to run the last leg. It was such an impactful three days.
After Tait’s recent diagnosis in late July, I again felt helpless. I didn’t know what to do for my friend. Then it occurred to me to do the only thing I knew to do – put my effort into raising money for TeamConnor and pediatric cancer research as a way to honor Tait. From there TeamTait for TeamConnor took on a life of its own. Tonya and I were overwhelmed by the way our Northwestern Mutual “family” got behind the event. There were over 1,400 individuals who participated in 36 different sporting events all over the country. They stood with us in supporting Tait and stood up against childhood cancer. Funds are still coming in, but it looks like we are going to hit our $1M goal. These funds are going to have such a meaningful impact for children with cancer and their families. One day there will be a cure…and we just got them one step closer. That feels pretty awesome!
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