At mile 19, running his first marathon, Jeff Ronstadt looked up and saw a sign that read: ‘Leukemia Survivor Thank You Team in Training’. Little did Ronstadt know that the money he raised with Team in Training for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) would one day go towards his son’s leukemia treatment.
A couple years ago, Ronstadt had reached his 40s and decided that he wanted to get in better shape and run a marathon. With help from one of his friends, he joined Team in Training, which is an endurance-training program to help runners finish races and raise money for LLS. In exchange for being trained by Team in Training, Ronstadt was required to raise a specific amount of money for LLS. He reached the minimum amount and ran his first marathon at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego.
Ronstadt felt great in the beginning of the race until tearing the tendon in his left foot on mile 10. Although he was advised to stop running, Ronstadt pushed through until he crossed the finish line.
“I was emotionally and physically spent, but it was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” said Ronstadt.
Not all of life is full of amazing experiences. On Dec. 28, 2011, Ronstadt received unexpected and frightening news that his 7-year-old son, Larry, had leukemia.
“It was like a punch to the gut,” said Ronstadt. “One of the hardest parts then was that the doctors didn’t know what kind of leukemia it was. Later, we found it was ALL or Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, which was good to hear because there’s a very high percentage of survival rate on that.”
Not long after, Ronstadt signed up for Team in Training again and within the first 15 minutes of putting up his website to fundraise money for LLS, $2,500 had been donated. The first time he raised money it took him five weeks to reach that amount.
“All my friends and family knew that Larry had leukemia so when they saw what I was doing they knew they could help by donating,” said Ronstadt. “What Team in Training does is not only help those of us who have been touched by leukemia and lymphoma but it’s a way that folks can get involved and help.”
Two years since being diagnosed with leukemia, Larry is not sick, currently going to school and involved in different athletics. By April 18, 2015 Larry is expected to be cancer free.
Ronstadt still continues to work with Team in Training to raise money, but will be unable to race in this year Arizona Distance Classic due to knee problems.
“If my body allows I’ll probably try and do 5k and then stop,” said Ronstadt.
Ronstadt is grateful to Team in Training for their mission of raising money for LLS and Ventana Medical System for their involvement and contribution to the Arizona Distance Classic.