Students raise funds for charity marathon

In the early morning of Jan. 3, 2008, Tech lost a beloved Jacket. Sara Keene, a fourth-year Materials Science and Engineering major, passed away due to complications from leukemia at Emory University Hospital.

The 21-year-old from Fayetteville, Ga. was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, secretary of the Panhellic Council, a faithful Tech football fan and an extraordinary dancer. She began dancing at the age of three, taking ballet, tap and jazz lessons. Fifteen years of hard work paid off when she was chosen to participate in the Governor’s Honors Program for dance in 2003.

Despite her battle with leukemia and numerous hospitalizations, she was able to stay enrolled at Tech. She inspired many during her lifetime, and she continues to motivate students even after her passing.

Recently, a group of Tech students have come together in an effort to raise money for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma research through The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program.

Leukemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow, lymphoma affects white blood cells and myeloma affects antibody-producing plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Team in Training, the world’s leading endurance training program, has raised over $850 million since 1988. With more than 360,000 volunteers, Team in Training offers training programs for its participants. Events include running or walking the marathon or half-marathon or participating in a triathlon or century, a 100-mile bike ride.

This year, a team of nine Tech students will participate in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program to train for the ING Georgia Marathon and Half Marathon.

Todd Schmidt, Michael Aronson, Alex Ribner, Lauren Bonair, Mary Beth King, Justin Levine, Stacy Krieg, Allison Scott and Bridget Gorta make up the members of this motivated team. Each team member is required to raise $1700 to participate in the race; proceeds go to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Runners rely on creative fundraising techniques and donations to reach their goal.

“I’ve organized one or two group events to raise money,” said Todd Schmidt, a second-year Aerospace Engineering major.

“I’m also going around to restaurants and asking if they will donate some of their profits. I even made a Facebook group, so check out Todd’s Schmidt’s Team in Training,” Schmidt said.

Bridget Gorta, a first-year Management major and member of Alpha Chi Omega, is also very enthusiastic about participating in the donation drive and race.

“When I heard about it, I decided to send out emails to everyone I knew asking for donations…I participated in a letter writing campaign and put letters in my neighbors’ mailboxes,” Gorta said.

While several members of the team were Sara’s sorority sisters, some had never met her, but decided to participate in order to honor her memory.

“I had never met Sara,” said Justin Levine, a first-year Civil Engineering major.

“Initially, I was going to run for the challenge. However, the more that I’m around Team in Training and the people on their staff, the clearer it was that raising money to fight against cancer is the real reason for doing it, and running is just a small part on the side. It’s an amazing source of motivation,” Levine said.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s chief volunteer health organization. It is dedicated to raise funds for blood cancer research and patient services. Founded in 1949, the organization supports positions accelerating progress to find cures for leukemia Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma and myeloma.

To improve the quality of life for patients, the Society tries to ensure patient access to healthcare by encouraging its volunteers to write to their representatives in an attempt to bring about policies addressing the burdens of these diseases.

The Society funds research directly, and Team in Training has a huge impact on this funding. The $800 million raised since 1988 will go directly to critical research for blood cancers.

“An estimated 823,349 people across the United States currently battle leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma,” said Sarah Abbott, Communications Consultant for the Georgia Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Every five minutes, someone in the United States learns that he or she has leukemia, Hodgkin or non-Hodgkin lymphoma or myeloma. Every ten minutes, someone dies of a blood cancer.

The Society offers the most comprehensive array of services to blood cancer patients and their families. In addition to support groups and educational programs for patients and their families. The Society is one of the last organizations to provide financial assistance as well.

Through the Patient Financial Aid Program, reimbursement of up to $500 per year helps cover the costs of transportation, drugs and various treatments not covered by insurance.”

Learn more or to sign up for Team in Training, call (678) 279-2006 or check out the website at