|Joe's Team 2007|
(I'm in the second row, 5th from right, just behind Joe)
I don't normally write much about my personal life but a dear friend of mine passed away the other day. Joe Finley was not only a friend and a neighbour, but an extraordinary man. He died at the age of 58 after a valiant six year battle with cancer, leaving behind his beloved wife Cara, son Michael and daughter Meaghan. In all those years, I never once heard Joe complain. In fact, I only remember him with a smile on his face.
Not long after cancer treatment in 2006, Joe completed a sprint triathlon. He was the very last finisher and his friends went back to run with him. He found the experience so incredible that he decided that he wanted to share it with others. He created Joe's Team - a triathlon team to raise money for cancer research at Princess Margaret Hospital. Initially I thought I'd just sponsor Joe or one of the participants in the event but Joe convinced me to give it a try. After all, if he could do a triathlon with part of a lung missing, I had no excuse.
In its first year, Joe's Team raised $500,000 as part of the Gravenhurst Triathlon. I was the top female duathlete and second in my age group. But more important than a prize was the gift of watching Joe cross the finish line with his son and daughter only ten days after having completed his last round of chemo.
In 2008, Joe's team created its own triathlon and, in total, the event has raised $3.5 million for the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. In 2009, Joe added the 'Blind Guys Tri Team' to allow blind and visually impaired athletes to compete in the event. Joe's Team is the third largest fundraiser for the Princess Margaret and the largest third party fundraiser for the hospital.
To read more about Joe Finley or to join me in making a donation to benefit cancer research at www.joesteam.ca.