Bits & Pieces: Upcoming Iron Girl Triathlon filled with feel-good stories

There always seem to be these wonderful stories that demonstrate both commitment and courage surrounding individuals in the area. Some of the most recent examples happen to be tied to the Aug. 18 Iron Girl Triathlon to be held at Centennial Lake.

Let's start with Alison Harper. She will be participating in the triathlon in honor of her friend Susan Doucet, who lost her battle with leukemia at the age of 45.


Allison and Susan trained together to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's "Team-in-Training" charity team. Alison will be participating for Susan with a heavy heart in hopes that she can help others with the disease. She is certain that Susan will be there in spirit.

Then there's Whitney Sibol of Baltimore. She was training for Iron Girl last year when she was struck by a boater while swimming. She was taken to Shock Trauma and spent the next several months undergoing surgeries and therapy. She registered for this year's Iron Girl from her hospital bed, as she didn't want to be late registering and miss the event.

Her mother tells us that she is determined to cross the finish line this year. I am not betting against this courageous lady.

These are but just two stories that have to be told. Every year, we hear of other fantastic stories that tell us just how tenuous life can be or how important determination and the will to succeed can be.

There's Joann Cronin, a 61-year-old grandmother in this year's race. How about Kathy Donnelly, who owns Columbia Yoga Center? She hasn't trained in years, and will celebrate her 60th birthday in this triathlon.

Let's not forget Grace Ligon, a three-time cancer survivor, and Amy Smith, in her first triathlon because she wants her son to reach for goals in his life.

There are dozens more stories and each one has a purpose and a specific goal. Talk about role models.

Some of the women are in the triathlon raising funds for worthy causes. Others are in it to help remember friends and family who have been taken from them. Others are in it for the challenge that this triathlon represents.

Regardless of the cause, the Iron Girl always represents something meaningful for a lot of the participants and their friends and families.

Remembering Brenda DeCesare

I am at the point in my life where I am losing friends and associates much too quickly. Therefore, I should not be stunned when another passes.

But in the case of the death of Brenda DeCesare, who passed on Aug. 2 of cancer, I was really taken aback mainly because I was unaware of her health problems.

I knew Brenda for many years during the time I was attempting to learn to play tennis from a superb teacher in Dennis Cochran at the Columbia Athletic Club where she was the tennis manager.

Before and after my lesson, I always stopped by to talk to Brenda. She was always positive no matter how poorly I played.


As a former accomplished athlete herself, she always encouraged all of the individuals at the club.

She cared deeply for friends and family and she always was there when somebody needed that shoulder to lean on.

Her friends are encouraged to attend a celebration of Brenda's life on Sunday, Aug. 18 from 3-7 p.m. at Historic Oakland in Columbia Town Center. Those who attend will have an opportunity to say a few words about their relationship with her.

I was at the Columbia Athletic Club a week after she passed away and I must say that I felt a void there.

She will be missed.