Donna Nelson essay |

Donna Nelson essay

Donna Nelson

Second place

Cathy Anderson-Meyers, event director of the Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life Triathlon, put this event on in honor of her dear friend Barbara.

What inspired Cathy to organize a triathlon was first competing in one. She insisted she was only a runner until her debut triathlon in the 1995 San Jose Danskin Triathlon.

The official charity of the series is The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and Danskin donates 10 percent of all entry fees to that foundation. It was that last fact that originally got the attention of Cathy.

She had been watching as one of her best friends, Barbara Schmidt Millar, struggle through breast cancer and decided that she was finally going to do a Danskin Triathlon … for Barb. She fell in love with the idea.

“It was just meant to be,” Cathy said thinking back to that first experience. Since that time Cathy has competed in 18 Danskin triathlons, including her most recent one in Seattle nearly a month ago, when she finished 11th out of 116 women in her age group.

A tradition was born, but the real result from that first triathlon was that her friend Barbara loved hearing it. “She got quite of a kick out of it all,” says Cathy.

Barbara’s enthusiasm sparked an idea in Cathy. So she gathered together her friends, and the Barbara Schmidt Millar Celebration of Life Triathlon was born. This year’s 11th annual race took place on a Sunday, and was also the 11-year anniversary of the day Barbara lost her struggle to cancer.

“Our triathlon is totally modeled after the Danskin Triathlons. It’s been wonderful to watch this triathlon grow and grow,” Cathy says.

She has put on workshops for first-timers in all the event areas and helps women become comfortable in their weaker areas. Cathy put on a bike clinic at the South Yuba Club. She also leads a swimming clinic at the Nevada Union High School pool.

Throughout the past 11 years of the Barbara Schmidt Millar Triathlon, more than 1,000 women have taken on the hilly course with her help and support. The event serves at the predominant fund-raising drive for the Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Fund, which assists women in need of help funding breast cancer screenings at the Breast Imaging Center of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. The Millar Fund also works to give scholarships each year to deserving Nevada Union students interested in pursuing a degree in a health care-related field.

Cathy Anderson-Meyers deserves a lot of credit for coming up with this event to honor her friend and for growing it every year for the past 11. She gives such encouragement to everyone; we’re lucky to have her energy in our community.

I was lucky enough to participate in the Celebration of Life Triathlon (in spite of the hills) and experience the friendliness and cooperation of so many. I cannot thank Cathy enough for creating an event with an environment so conducive to empowering women and urging them to accomplish feats they never thought possible.

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