Ventana Medical Systems Inc. and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training Program came together in Oro Valley on Nov 3. to inspire and inform residents about raising money to fight leukemia and lymphoma by participating in the upcoming Arizona Distance Classic race.

“My definition of running is moving the body forward,” Sean Smith, a co-coach from Team In Training said.  Smith encourages people who have never run and those who are experienced runners to join Team In Training.  

Team In Training is an endurance-training program that helps raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Team members raise funds for LLS in exchange for the tools they need to be successful event athletes. Since 1988, Team In Training has trained more than 550,000 participants who have raised $1.3 billion to support blood cancer research and patient services.

Team In Training coaches help them become successful event athletes. This will be the fifth year Team In Training will come together with Ventana Medical Systems for the Arizona Distance Classic race.

Ventana employees have formed a Team In Training team for the Arizona Distance Classic Half Marathon for the last four years. A total of 41 employees have competed on Team Ventana, raising $34,300 to help fund blood cancer research. 

“Our goal is to celebrate healthy and active lifestyles,” said race director David Babner.  “As cliché as it sounds, it’s really seeing lives changed one step at a time.  What’s great, too, is that people can raise money at the same time.”

Dr. Samantha Kendrick, a Lymphoma researcher, spoke to the attendees about her personal experience in the fight against cancer.  In 2009, Kendrick’s husband was diagnosed with Non-Classical Hodgkins Lymphoma.

“I was so familiar with studying cancer for the past seven years up until this point, although mostly on breast cancer” Kendrick said. “I forgot what it’s like to be in that room to hear that diagnosis.  To be with your loved one when they go through the treatments.”

Lymphoma is a cancerous growth of white blood cells, which are there to help fight off foreign invasions of bacteria.  Kendrick spoke about her updated research of cancer.  Currently, she is working on an aggressive form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.  Through her research, she has worked with other doctors and Ventana Medical Systems.  

“Recently I heard the word hope being defined as passionately waiting,” Kendrick said. “People coming together to raise awareness and funds are all passionately waiting. You are showing others, especially those affected by these diseases, that they can hope.”

Also, to speak of his experience with cancer was Jeff Ronstadt. Ronstadt’s friend was diagnosed with Lymphoma shortly after they finished the Arizona Distance Classic, and his son was diagnosed in December 2011.

“Things have changed so much for children and adults with this diagnosis,” Ronstadt said. “The reasons it’s changed so much is because people like you and I raise money to help these people (researchers) know how to fix it.”  

The Arizona Distance Classic will take place on March 24, 2013 in Oro Valley.  Team In Training will work with athletes who want to complete the half marathon.  The race includes a quarter marathon and 5k.  

For more information on the race or to sign up to participate, visit the website at

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