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UAlbany Triathletes Raise Funds for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

December 1, 2008

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From left, Alyssa Kouzan, Jody Lewin, and Tiffany Fazzone.

From left, Alyssa Kouzan and UAlbany students Jody Lewin and Tiffany Fazzone completed a triathlon to raise money for leukemia research.

For University at Albany students Tiffany Fazzone and Jody Lewin, the best part of competing in a triathlon this fall was not the race itself, but getting the chance to help those who need it most.

Fazzone, Lewin, and their team of six other athletes raised more than $40,000 for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
The UAlbany athletes were inspired by Samantha Sagnelli – Sammie - a 9-year-old from Clifton Park who was diagnosed with lymphoma in March of last year.

The athletes met Sagnelli through The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training (TNT), which sets the athletes up with someone in the area who is battling blood cancer.

“When my alarm went off every Sunday at 5:30 a.m., I felt blessed to have the ability to get out and train,” said Fazzone, a senior from Colonie, N.Y. “I think everyone who watched me go through the transformation into a triathlete knew why I was doing it.” Fazzone, a mathematics major who plans to teach middle school math after graduation, felt inspired by Sagnelli's story.

“The most rewarding part was seeing the appreciation of all our hard work by those battling cancer and survivors of the disease," added Lewin, a senior from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who is also a math major.

Fazzone and Lewin competed at the Sept. 14 triathlon in Washington, D.C. They and their teammates overcame fears of swimming, tight schedules, and 98-degree temperatures on race day to complete the event.

The team also had a victory over the tight economy. Fazzone and Lewin held a music and silent auction at Appletinis Café, a popular Albany eatery. The money goes to leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma research and patient services.

In between raising funds, the team trained for the Olympic distance race that included a .9 mile swim, a 26-mile bike ride, and a 6.2 mile run with coaches Kristen Hislop and Beth Grzyboski, a UAlbany School of Business alumna.

"Being able to join this group as a coach was an incredible experience for me," said Hislop.  "I spent four months with a group of people who were challenging themselves while tackling something that would scare most people away - raising money.”

Neither Fazzone nor Lewin plan to stop training anytime soon. “I want to see a cure for every cancer, and I am never going to just accept things as they are," said Fazzone.

And as Fazzone and Lewin work to raise awareness about leukemia and lymphoma, they will have lifetime fans in people like Sagnelli, whose cancer is now in remission.

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