Gals for Cal – Women’s Triathlon Fundraising Team for DMD
In 2009, over 20 determined women got together to complete their very first triathlon (and for many, their first sports competition ever). The driving force that led these women, some of whom actually had to learn to swim for that first race, to tackle what they had never thought possible was a little boy named Calvin Quitzau .
The ‘Gals’ as they now call themselves, wanted to support Calvin and his family after he was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a progressive muscle wasting disease that currently has no treatment or cure, mostly effecting boys. Doing ‘the same old same old wouldn’t have seemed like enough’, so the Gals for Cal triathlon and fundraising team was born.
Twenty-one Gals crossed the finish line of the sprint triathlon that year (including Cal’s mom, Cindy). They learned to swim, lost weight, supported each other and raised money & awareness for Duchenne research along the way. But they didn’t stop there. Each year, the Gals for Cal team has gotten bigger and raised more money. In 2011, 85 Gals all finished the Danskin triathlon. This year, some of the Gals decided to go longer and completed the challenging New York City Olympic-distance triathlon on July 8th; others will be competing again at Danskin on July 22. Through their efforts, they have raised upwards of $100,000 for the cause.
Many of the Gals have sons that have DMD. Some are extended family members that have seen the effect that Duchenne has on a family, including the expense of costly equipment often not covered by insurance and the devastation of a progressive illness that has no cure. No matter what brought them to the team, all of the Gals feed off of each other’s successes and milestones.
‘Gal’ Nancy Glendinning recalls her favorite triathlon moment not as the moment that she first crossed the finish line, but as the time that the team crossed together: ‘Last year, one of the younger gals was really struggling to finish the race. She was the “last Gal” to cross the finish line, so all of the other gals that were right there at the last turn hopped back out onto the course to cross the finish line with her. I think there were 30 of us that just spontaneously did this – but it’s indicative of the Gals spirit and support of each other! It still gives me goose bumps to think of it!’
While their stories are inspiring, each Gal is ultimately inspired by the boys suffering from Duchenne. Calvin in particular has inspired the women by ‘livin’ large!’ despite the progression of his illness, making the most of each day even when he struggles with tasks that most take for granted.
The Gals want to live large in honor of Calvin and other boys with Duchenne, ‘tri-ing to support those who cannot’. Nancy says, ‘The past four seasons have really driven home how short life can be. Dragging yourself through your life, versus charging through it and really experiencing it isn’t living; it’s existing. I don’t want to waste days any more – I want each of them to have at least a moment in them that means something.’
The Gals for Cal are indeed an inspiring example of livin’ large!
If you’re inspired by the Gals for Cal and would like more information, visit their website at www.galsforcal.com or stop by their tent at the Danskin race on July 22, 2012 in Webster, MA. Donations can be made online to a specific gal’s fundraising page, or to the general page.