FITNESS: Get Your Gillie Girl On
BY FARAH JADRAN
On the morning of Sunday, July 22, you’ll tear onto the Veteran’s Park beach in Camillus dripping with water from Gillie Lake. Then, you’ll round the turn and enter into the water one more time to complete the 800-meter swim. Next, you’ll breeze through the transition area, grab your bike and take your wheels for a ride over 14 scenic miles of asphalt. And for the last time, you’ll enter transition again, ditch your bike, and head out on to the 3.1-mile course for the final run.
As you round the final turn and head into the brightly painted shoot – having given it all you’ve got – you will have just completed the first-ever Gillie Girl’s Sprint Triathlon, to benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund of CNY. The fund raises money year-round to benefit research efforts at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.
Eric Prager, the Gillie Girl’s race director, decided to start what he hopes will become an annual athletic event and celebration in memory of his mother, Carol Prager, who fought breast cancer for many years. “I really want to make this an event, not just a race,” Eric said. With this in mind, spectators and athletes will enjoy music, food and family fun after the race, as an opportunity to celebrate those fighting the disease and remembering loved ones who have passed away.
To Eric, his mother was, and always will be, the strongest person he has ever known. Eric’s mother was one of the three founders of Women Supporting Women, a Delmarva Peninsula-based non-profit organization which was started in order to provide awareness, education and support to all those who are affected by breast cancer. Three area women founded it in 1993: Carol Prager, Harriette Fine and Sue Revelle. They started the group out of their homes after discovering the need to help women through their journey with breast cancer. Carol’s motivation to help other women only grew as she made peace with her second diagnosis, which resulted in another double mastectomy. “Her perspective changed,” Eric said. “She looked at this as the end of her life and she accepted the fact that every day was a bonus.”
While Carol was “never an athlete or someone, who would work out,” Eric realized his mother’s greater strength: bringing hope and support to others. Eric says although his mother wasn’t a sports fan, she would support him in his triathlon competitions, even on the days she was battling fatigue and sickness from the breast cancer treatments. During the winter of 2008, the Prager Family spent their final Christmas vacation together. Per mom’s request, Eric says there was a cocktail hour every night. Carol’s breast cancer spread to her bones and her brain stem. On her final evening, she asked all the kids to leave and have dinner while she stayed with her husband. There were 13 people at the table, but one extra chair. “Everyone had a drink in hand, right … and dad called,” said Eric as he teared up by the thought of the memory. “It was a classic mom moment … a toast.”
July 22 is going to be a special day for the CMB Fund of CNY, for survivors and those being remembered, but also for Eric and Carol Prager. “For me, this is going to be a very emotional day.”
There are fewer than 80 spots left for this all-women triathlon. Athletes and volunteers can find more information and also register at http://gillie-girl.com.