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Tuesday, July 5,2011

"My competitive journey started from the hospital bed."

By Jenn Sommermann  
Just before my 42nd birthday, I was diagnosed with Stage III ovarian cancer. I received a full hysterectomy only four days after my diagnosis and endured six long months of chemotherapy. I was able to beat the disease and credit my involvement in the sport of triathlon which started at age 40. Without this sport and a keen awareness of my body, I might not have picked up the subtle but unmistakable symptoms that encouraged me to see a doctor.

Lying in the hospital receiving a chemo treatment, I read an ad in Triathlete Magazine for a women’s triathlon series to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF). The races were in 3 cities (San Diego, Chicago and Seattle) and I vowed to complete all three races the following year. My competitive journey had started from the hospital bed.

In 2008, I raced in the entire series and added several more races to round out my season. In 2009, my campaign took hold as I decided to set bigger goals for myself and for fundraising for OCRF. Racing in 50 triathlons in 50 states by the time I am 50 years old, to raise $100,000 for ovarian cancer research is my current goal.

Every penny of donations goes directly to OCRF to find a method of early detection. In addition, all in-kind donations are turned into cash donations (by me) in the name of the contributor. This means that if I receive a comp entry or a comp hotel room, I donate the amount I save in the name of the race. This makes my campaign unique.

As an ovarian cancer survivor, I will race in all, in less than 3 years to raise $100,000 for ovarian cancer research. This campaign is self inspired, self orchestrated and 100% self funded. In addition, all in-kind donations are turned into cash donations by me in the same name of the person who donates. I race for women who have lost their battle, women undergoing treatment and women yet to be diagnosed.

Timeline of Goals Supporting OCRF:

2007: While hospitalized and receiving chemotherapy, I vowed to complete the entire US Women’s Triathlon Series (USWTS) the following year.

2008: Completed entire USWTS series in California, Illinois and Washington plus Massachusetts and raised $15000 as a member of Team Hope.

2009: Proclaimed my goal to raise $100,000 for ovarian cancer research by racing in 50 triathlons in all 50 states by age. 50 Campaign named 50x50x100.  Raced in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maine, Connecticut and New York.

2010: Added another 11 states and Washington DC: Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Vermont, Delaware, Mississippi, Maryland and New Jersey.  Fundraising totals go over $32000.


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