Friday, April 12, 2013

Travis Hess and Team Aquaphor

Anyone who has read my blog knows about Team Aquaphor and has seen how important Team Aquaphor has been to me. For anyone who hasn't: "Team Aquaphor is a 200 member national Age Group sponsored team of triathletes and runners who have a passion for their sport." We are promoted by Active Ambassadors as being a "close knit group".  Close Knit Group, in my opinion, is an understatement. The people on this team are my friends. They are the ones who cheer for me when I do well in a race and the ones who boost me up when I don't meet my expectations. They are the people I go to when I need encouragement and motivation. And speaking about motivation, if you only knew the achievements and successes that Team Aquaphor has had you would think we were a professional team, and in our hearts and minds we all represent like we are professionals. Feeling lazy and uninspired to go work out?  Go and see what your team members have been doing today and I guarantee it will get you off the couch and out of the door.

Travis Hess has been a member of that team for the past 6 years. I'd like to tell you a little about Travis.

I knew he'd been on Team Aquaphor for a long time, but until last year when he made this video for Kona Inspired in his hope to get a spot at Ironman Hawaii, that was pretty much all I knew of him. Our team rallied for Travis and voted like crazy to try to get him to Kona, but unfortunately we fell short and someone else won. I really wanted him to go, we all did.
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His video talks about the Hess Cancer Foundation which he formed after losing his little 3 year old daughter to cancer. He and his wife Meridith didn't know where they were going to get the money for her funeral and an anonymous doner gave them $1000 to help cover the expense. He realized that he could help other families in his same situation and so the Foundation was formed.

The Hess Cancer Foundation, Inc. (HCF) was established for the following purposes:

-To provide financial assistance to families that lose a young child to cancer and aren’t financially prepared for it.
-To help the community see that there is a real need for this type of help.
-To encourage fitness as a way to fight and prevent cancer. Our slogan is ”fitness for the fight”.

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Travis lost his battle to cancer on April 5, 2013.  He wrote this last post on his Facebook page on March 26, 2013:

Good morning all,
This update may be the last one I do. Why? Because we figured out last week that I'm terminal. That means I'm dying. On Thursday of last week, Dr Greg Litton said that I have 4-6 weeks. My life has been an honor and a privilege. I have had a wonderful, loving family (growing up AND being a parent, too) and some AWESOME friends. Team Aquaphor, I sure will miss you. Hope you find a great replacement for me. As a bit of free advice to all, STOP PROCRASTINATING! Life is short, so start doing the important things now. If you have wanted to quit smoking, do it NOW. For you religious friends and family, repent TODAY. Your life won't get any longer. I am excited for the day when I will be able to kneel before my maker, bow my head and thank him for this wonderful experience. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts. There will be more to come at my funeral, for the lucky ones who can come - you're all invited. Stay tuned for the due date, my wife will let you all know.
Travis Hess

I don't think I was the only one with tears in my eyes when I read his post. I know I wasn't. The outpouring from our team was incredible. A week and a half later when we learned that Travis was gone we were heartbroken. I wrote: "You realize the depth of how much this team means to you when you can't stop crying when you lose someone that you never met in person." That's how we all feel.

As a team we decided to rally together and make contribution to the Hess Cancer Foundation. In the week since Travis left this world we raised over $1000. There is a link on the the Foundation's page if you want to donate, I know it will make a difference in a family's lives.

His funeral was today. Good Bye Travis. We will miss you. Now you will swim, bike, and run pain free! See you at the races.

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