May 27, 2004
by: Robyn Hanson
Media Relations Assistant
Two former Santa Clara University women's basketball players, Tammy Annas and Julie Butler, have committed themselves to training for a triathlon supporting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a worthy cause sure to make any Bronco proud to be in association with these young women. They have dedicated themselves to the "Team in Training" program which has quickly become the world's largest endurance sports training regimen since its beginning in 1988. More than 300,000 runners, walkers, cyclists and triathletes participate in the world's largest marathons, triathlons and century rides on behalf of the Society.
Both Annas '03 and Butler left their mark on the mission campus as leaders on the basketball court. With their continued friendship back in their home state of Washington, they are embarking upon a new challenge, one that will test their physical endurance and mental toughness, pushing them to their limits. Most would be frightened by the mere idea of swimming, biking and running, but these two have tackled their training, full force ahead toward the finish line; a victory not only on a personal level, but also for those affected by the diseases for which they are competing.
The motivation behind participating in such a physically demanding event sprung from Butler, as she was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma disease in March of last year. Forced to take a leave from academics, Butler endured six months of chemotherapy and now proudly reports her remission status and is working toward completing her degree.
Through Butler's experience with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she has learned a valuable lesson to never take anything for granted. "It was definitely a wake up call, to realize that such a disease can affect you in your twenties. No one is invincible. You look at your life and understand what is really important. I became so close with my family and friends as they supported me through it all."
Wanting to become more involved, Butler grew interested in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and made her decision to join Team in Training in January. Asking Annas to sign up with her, they've embarked upon an incredible journey with hopes of helping those who suffer as Butler did.
"Julie compelled me to participate in the race. It seemed like fun and it's a great program to do it for," Annas remarked.
The Society has declared war leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, working toward finding their cures and improving the lives of both patients and their families. Team members each have a fundraising goal of $5,000 they must reach in order to compete, all contributed to the research of these deadly diseases. In return, participants receive training and encouragement, not to mention the great feeling of supporting a worthy cause in hopes of making the lives of those affected by the diseases a little better in the long run.
Annas explained how at times it was difficult to get money. "There would be some periods of drought. We had an estate sale where each of us raised $600; for the most part, people have been more responsive then I originally thought. It's always hard to ask for money though."
Each individual who signs up is placed on a team, all responsible for raising money and attending three group practices a week. A coach helps prepare them for the race, guiding them through team workouts as well as providing a mapped plan for three independent practices. This process began with 10 individuals on a team. Now thriving with only three, Annas and Butler's true dedication to the cause, their training and reaching their goal donation amount is displayed as they refuse to give up.
"The workouts can sometimes be extremely difficult," Butler elaborated. "I started training soon after finishing chemotherapy so it was tough; I've had my fair share of injuries."
Each team member is given a bracelet with the name of the patient for which they are competing. "Whenever I feel like quitting, I look at my bracelet and it reminds me why I am working so hard," said Butler. "The race will probably be emotional for everyone as we are competing for honored patients, but especially for me as I have been through it before. I think it's great we're doing this for them and trying to find a cure. I want people to be aware of the disease as the race is not so much a competition, but is more about what we're doing it for; to benefit those in need."
Annas and Butler's honored patient is a young girl by the name of Katie West. Only 10 years old, she has been suffering with her disease for a couple years now. "We've met her a couple times," Annas explained. "It has really been an eye-opening experience for me supporting Julie through her battle and continuing to support her and all those suffering through the triathlon. You never know what can happen to a person at a certain point in time."
"The Lukemia & Lymphoma Society is a great charity with 80% of the money raised going straight to the cause for medicine, research and the patients' support system," Butler explained. "The money given definitely makes a difference."
Both Annas and Butler have been involved in community service since their days at Santa Clara, as they have volunteered at the Sacred Heart House and at the local women's shelter through the Aruppe Center on campus. They also shared their basketball knowledge with the local kids at camps and clinics the team would host.
Jenn Bradley, a current assistant coach for the women's basketball team and former teammate of Annas and Butler, was not surprised when she heard what these two were dedicating themselves to. "It's like a team atmosphere for them. They had such a good experience at Santa Clara that they brought it back into their lives through this intensive training; the Bronco bond has stayed with them."
Butler seemed to agree, explaining how having Annas participate in the triathlon with her has made training much easier and more enjoyable. "We've worked out together for four years now and we know each other so well. It's been great."
The two recently returned to campus in March for the WCC Basketball Championship. Bradley said it was great to see them and hang out like old times. Having such a great time being back in Leavey, both Annas and Butler explained how they wanted to be back on the court as most of their old teammates joined them to support the Broncos.
"It was weird being back in our old gym with the bench filled with so many girls I don't know, "Annas remarked.
"I really miss it but my role now is supporting Santa Clara basketball," Butler so reflectively stated.
Such hard-working individuals, using their athletic abilities to help further the research for these diseases in hopes of improving the lives of others. These young women are undoubtedly carrying on the Bronco tradition of excellence, making us all proud as they fight to make a difference; embarking upon this opportunity of a lifetime, not stopping until they have reached their goal: the finish line.
This six-month commitment will culminate with participation in the King's Trail Triathlon in Maui, Hawaii, on June 13. This is an Olympic Distance Road Triathlon with a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and a 10K run. For more details about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the "Team in Training" program, visit their website at http://www.leukemia.org/hm_lls. Donations are still being accepted, as each must reach their goal amount of $5,000. Visit their homepages for more details: