By Eileen Drennen
It all started with a bike.
Long a fan of spinning at the gym and something of a “jockette” anyway, Cindy Corvi says she picked up a hybrid bicycle from REI in 2002 to tool around outdoors with a friend.
Biking outside was such a revelation that the very next year, she signed up for Team in Training, which raises money for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through such endurance sporting events as marathons, triathlons and century bike rides – in which riders cover 100 miles in a day.
The cause came naturally, since her husband, Chuck, had been diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia in 1996 and her mother’s husband with lymphoma not long after. But Corvi’s involvement in epic bike journeys and large-scale fund-raising was something of a welcome surprise.
“I didn’t know there was an organization that raised money for something that could help my husband,” said Corvi, who lives in Dunwoody with her spouse of 22 years. “I was always his supporter. But now I had a whole bunch more people cheering for him.”
Since 2003, Cindy Corvi has been something of a cancer-fighting dynamo.
At 53, she’s logged more than 15,000 miles in rides scattered from Lake Tahoe and California to Hawaii, and raised $60,000 for research and services to patients with blood cancers, which include lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease.
She’s also mentored Team in Training first-timers, or “newbies” as she calls them; served as something of a “team mom” for fellow cyclists; and created an annual holiday tradition at Atlanta Cancer Care and Scottish Rite, where she and a group of friends construct and deliver ornate gingerbread houses to the delight of patients who must sit there for hours to get their treatment.
“The smiles that go on those faces!” Corvi said. “They love looking at the houses – and it makes you feel wonderful.”
But, she says, don’t make too much of a fuss over her. The experiences and relationships she’s gained have been amazing and she’s thrilled to have been able to raise such funds for an important cause. She just wants to keep it in perspective.
Hard training and challenging endurance sports, she said, are nothing compared to what cancer patients go through just to live.
“We can always get off the bike when it gets hard,” she said. “But Chuck can’t stop his treatment when it gets hard.”
Not content to just provide inspiration for his wife and other Team in Training cyclists, Chuck logged 62 miles of his own in 2004 on a Florida bike ride with Corvi’s team – which, he jokes, “took about 6 months to recover from” – and has served as a peer counselor to other cancer patients for six years.
What the couple learned since Chuck’s diagnosis, Corvi said, is how one person’s illness transforms more than just the patient.
“The whole family gets cancer – not just the person,” she said. “It’s a wake-up call. You don’t take things for granted.”
In the 20-plus years that Team In Training has been around, more than 440,000 athletes from all over the country have completed endurance events to fight blood cancers, and raised over $1 billion for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
Interested in learning more about Team in Training’s range of endurance sports fund-raising events, which this year take place in spots like San Diego, Anchorage, Lake Tahoe, and the Grand Canyon?
Corvi invites you to join her at the group’s Summer Season Kick-off on Jan. 29 at Dave & Buster’s in Marietta. It gets underway at 1 p.m.
2215 D&B Drive, Marietta, GA 30067. Details: 404-720-7842, www.teamintraining.org/ga.