Many people who join The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) seek the physical challenge of a marathon, triathlon, cycle century ride or hike adventure and the sense of accomplishment that comes with it. The satisfaction that comes with fundraising for a good cause tends to be an added benefit.
Not so for Thomas Caleshu.
Thomas Caleshu was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma when he was just 13 and this year he celebrates 20 years of being cancer free. Determined to ensure that no 13-year-old has to go through a similar experience, he set out to raise $20,000. And he wanted to do it through Team In Training.
“It was a bit of an atypical process. I came up with the catchy phrase first,” said Thomas. “I knew I wanted the funds to go to LLS and Team In Training was the natural fit. Given my own cancer history, it is very inspiring to see teammates knowingly push themselves to the limit for a cause.”
Thomas and his wife, Colleen, are both TNT alumni and seasoned fundraisers. They knew they had to have a solid strategy to raise $20,000, especially in a down economy.
With the help of their good friend, Willow Harrington, Thomas and Colleen (who coincidentally met via TNT), devised a fundraising timeline to get them to their goal. They broke the $20,000 down into $5,000 increments and brainstormed possible events that their friends and connections could help with. The winning recipe for fundraising success was a combination of direct donations and three key fundraising events: an elegant dinner prepared by former French Laundry Chef, Jesse Fox, a performance cycling ride with Ironman Champion Meredith Kessler and an amazing online auction with all sorts of highly-prized goodies.
In the end, Thomas raised $20,870.
“The key to fundraising success is always direct donations and lots of reminders. And if you have to take on a fundraising event, pick your battles and pay attention to what you can do realistically,” said Thomas.
What’s truly inspiring is that even after surpassing his fundraising goal, Thomas is relentless in helping find a cure. He has pledged to return to the TNT Triathlon Team in the spring to train and fundraise again in honor of a friend who was recently diagnosed. In the mean time, he plans to take a break and a belated honeymoon in New Zealand.
It’s not too late to join Team In Training! Visit www.teamintraining.org/sf for details or call us at 800.78.TRAIN.