– Triathlete, Author, and Motivational Speaker –
“Everyone has a cancer. Everyone has a dream.”
Teri Griege lives in St. Louis, MO. Teri Griege had been a high school athlete and always enjoyed sports. She began running marathons in her forties, including Chicago, Boston and New York. Her interest in endurance events led her to triathlons, and as she began to train and race more competitively she set her sights on the big prize: The Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Teri completed Ironman Louisville in 2008 and missed qualifying for the World Championship by just five minutes. Even more determined, she returned to training. Throughout the next year, Teri suffered minor injuries and was unusually sluggish and tired, but she attributed that to overtraining.
When she completed Ironman Louisville in 2009 ten minutes slower than the prior year, she was certain something was wrong. Her suspicions were confirmed with a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer with metastases to her liver. Her frame was strong and muscular; inside her disease was advanced and had spread to the liver. Statistically, she had a 5-to-10-percent chance of living another five years. Despite this prognosis, Teri refused to let the disease get in the way of her dream, competing in The Ironman World Championship. In 2011, at the age of 50, despite undergoing surgeries and chemotherapy, Teri crossed the finish line in Kona.
During this journey, Teri has embraced the philosophy of taking each day at a time. She wakes up each morning with a mission of living the day to the fullest by helping others and through sharing her story. As part of her mission to save lives and inspire hope, she recently published her book, Powered by Hope, the Teri Griege Story with author Amy Marxkors. As she writes, “Everyone has a cancer. Everyone has a dream.”
Teri has been a featured guest at a range of major companies and organizations and she’s been featured on The Today Show, ESPN, and NBC and Ellen DeGeneres Show’s Blog. Teri has received awards locally and nationally for her work in health awareness and fundraising, including the Colon Cancer Alliance Sapphire Award, the Women of Achievement Award in St. Louis and the WunderGlo Foundation Cancer Warrior award.
In support or her newly launched foundation, Powered by Hope, and with the release of her book, Teri travels the country sharing her story as an inspirational speaker. She helps raise funds for causes including Colon Cancer Alliance and Pedal the Cause, both supporting Siteman Cancer Center and cancer research efforts.
Teri says, “always remember, first, to never give up; second, you’re never too old; and third, you’re never alone.”
As part of her mission, Teri is also raising funds for Powered by Hope, her newly formed foundation. Powered by Hope was formed to provide hope and support to anyone undergoing cancer treatment through the presentation of a medal with words of inspiration. www.poweredbyhope.org to learn more. The medal is presented to patients as a token to remind them that they are not alone and share hope as they face the challenges ahead. For more information, please visit Teri’s website at: www.terigriege.com
How does it feel to be an inspiration to others? Did you ever expect to become an inspiration?
I’ve always been a people person, and really enjoyed getting to know people and their stories. While on my cancer journey I’ve met some amazing people who have really inspired me to keep moving ahead. If I can share a bit of my experience and that helps inspire someone to stay positive, it is a very rewarding and humbling experience.
Why are Triathlons so inspiring? What makes this sport so special around the world?
I think people are inspired to see how far someone participating in triathlons can push themselves physically, mentally and emotionally to compete and train. The training and dedication that go into preparing for triathlons is intense, I think people are drawn to that level of commitment. It is one of the few sports that is a combination of three sports.
When did you start participating in triathlons? Were was your first competition?
My first triathlon was at a local recreation center – St. Peter’s Rec Plex in 2005.
What motivates you in life?
I am motivated by my family, my friends, the team of people who support me, and my faith. I’m also motivated by the courageous people I have had the chance to meet through my work and sport.
What would you say to other people with similar ambitions?
You have to put in the time and practice, it really is about committing to your goals and you will get out of it what you put into it.
Who inspires you? Why?
I am inspired by my children and my husband. They are my champions in all that I do and support me along the way. My husband has participated in marathons and races with me including the Tokyo marathon this year. An athlete who has inspired me is Jon Blais. He is who inspired me to participate in Ironman before my diagnosis. Then my story came full circle when I was a featured Ironman athlete. A professional athlete who inspires me is Chrissie Wellington.
How did you deal with obstacles in your life?
From training to my cancer diagnosis, I have relied on my family, my team and through hope. I think everyone has their own cancer, their own set of challenges, and we all can relate to one another better once we realize that. Along with my cancer diagnosis I made it my mission to save lives and inspire hope. Finding that mission and focusing on that, has been big for me in facing these obstacles. My faith is also a major part of what inspires me and has brought me much peace and gratitude. Also, the 12-step program has given me the tools to continue my 21 years of sobriety.
What do you like most about Triathlons?
Swimming. I like the people you meet, the excitement of competing and the sense of achievement from challenging myself to compete and complete multiple distances.
Mention major accomplishments in your life other than triathlons
Crossing the finish line in Kona for the Ironman was one of my biggest accomplishments – it was truly unforgettable. It was a dream of mine before my cancer diagnosis, and to be able to achieve it while undergoing chemotherapy was an extraordinary feat – one I was able to do with the support of my “army” of family, friends, training partners and doctors. I’m very proud of my newly-launched foundation, Powered by Hope, and the work I have done to help those with cancer in the community locally and nationally. I have received awards locally and nationally for my work in health awareness and fundraising, including the Colon Cancer Alliance Sapphire Award, the Women of Achievement Award in St. Louis and the WunderGlo Foundation Cancer Warrior award. Some other highlights recently have been, being a featured on the NBC Ironman, interviewed on the TODAY Show and meeting Ellen Degeneres as a guest on her Do Good blog. I recently published my book, Powered by Hope, with author Amy Marxkors. My goal is to help saves lives and inspire hope by sharing my story. Now I get to travel the country speaking on the topic of perseverance and cancer awareness.
What is in the future for you?
I don’t know. If I would have told you before what the future held, I would have come up short. It is truly interesting to see what the future holds, and I’m open and ready for anything. As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve recently published my book, Powered by Hope, so I am traveling to promote it and my mission, including my foundation. I’m also sharing my story as an inspirational speaker. I plan on training and participating in races that support a cause.
Do you support or represent any Non-Profit Organizations?
Yes. Powered by Hope Foundation. Please visit www.poweredbyhope.org to learn more.