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Off-the-Clock: Cheryl Bennett Walks for Leukemia

Cheryl Bennett, senior analyst, Agriculture & Natural Resources (ANR) and External Relations, was sitting back one day, reflecting and looking for a new challenge and adventure. She found it in the Team in Training Rock‘n’Roll Marathon, which benefits one of the world’s largest voluntary health organizations dedicated to funding blood cancer research—the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Team in Training, a non-profit, endurance-training program, raises funds for research. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

The 13.2-mile half-marathon takes place on June 26 in Seattle, WA. Link went one-on-one with Bennett to learn more about her new quest, which has garnered her new friends and a resolve to continue to train even after the half-marathon.

What prompted you to participate?

I wanted something new, something I hadn’t done before. I also wanted to get fit and give back to the community.

My interest was sparked after hearing radio announcements. And a friend of mine who is on the CORE Team mentioned the orientation. After attending the kick-off meeting, it became clear that here was an excellent opportunity for me to not only give back to my community but to also get back into a fitness regime. I was so impressed with the information, their motivation and the electricity in the air! I didn’t expect to sign up that day.

In exchange for the training and support provided by Team in Training, I committed to raise funds to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Although I have not been directly affected by these blood cancers, there are others in my life that has been affected. I’m walking to raise funds on their behalf.

Tell us about the walk. Where will you start? End?

We start and end in Seattle on June 26. Thousands of people will converge there. A few streets and a portion of the freeway will be closed off for the event.

Tell us about your training regimen. How long have you been training? What do you do?

I’m part of the Greater Bay Area Team. I’ve been training every day since February.

We’re provided a monthly schedule of training activities. Sundays are “easy” 30-minute walks. The main trainings are every other Saturday morning with the larger group of 40-50, and we also have team walks on the “off” Saturday. These Saturday “Buddy Walks” are just with the East Bay group, about 5-15 people. We increase the distance we walk with each successive week.

On Wednesday nights we have CORE training – weight training to build up our core muscles and increase balance and strength. Recently I went from 3 pounds to 5!

You start with timed walks. First you learn how to stretch in preparation for the walk. The timed walks are usually 30-60 minutes and you build up to longer walks. One weekend I walked for three hours!

We train in a different place each week – Golden Gate Park, the Presidio, Harbor Bay in Alameda, the Iron Horse Trail, Point Isabel in Richmond and the Berkeley Marina, to name a few. Later in the regimen we do our walks either by mileage or by time. Six to nine miles is about 3 hours. The half-marathon takes about 4 hours to complete.

All in all, I’ve walked more than 120 miles so far!

Sometimes honorees, those afflicted with blood cancers, participate in trainings. This experience helps me know how fortunate I am. The patients are so brave! And I want to help find a cure.

The walk raises money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Do you have a goal in mind?

My goals are twofold: (1) Cross the finish line! (2) Raise $2,900 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

[Editor’s note: Contact Cheryl Bennett at or (510) 987-0060 if you would like to make a contribution. Contributions are 100% tax-deductible, and at least 75% of fundraising goes directly to research and patient services in the San Francisco Oakland Bay Area.]

Comments ( 6 )

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  1. Jennifer Forsberg June 8, 2010 Reply

    Cheryl, I think it is awesome that you are doing this!

  2. Ghanya Thomas June 8, 2010 Reply

    Way to go Cheryl! I wish you all the best in your efforts!

  3. Doree Reed June 9, 2010 Reply

    The best of luck to you. Keep it up.

  4. Doris McCarty June 11, 2010 Reply

    You can do it Cheryl and walking does the body Good!!!

  5. Trish June 15, 2010 Reply

    Good luck Cheryl!! I know you can do it and it will feel so great when you cross that finish line!

    As the mom of an honoree for the East Bay TNT Team (“East Bay Rocks! No Wimps!”) we are forever grateful to all participants who continue to raise money to find a cure for all blood cancers. Because of the research that LLS does, my daughter will be considered cured from leukemia when she reaches her 5 year anniversary of being cancer free this December! Thank you for your commitment to the cause!

    GO TEAM!

  6. Nancy February 21, 2012 Reply

    Congratulations, Cheryl, on you work to raise money to find a cure for these cancers. I know so many people who are benefitting from the research. Love, n

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