OUT TRAINING — Sheriff’s deputy Terry Leonard gets a little attention from some horses as he trains for a series of races. He is running to raise funds and awareness of First Descents, a camp for young adults battling cancer. Courtesy photo by Terry Leonard
Pondera County Sheriff’s Deputy Terry Leonard is logging the miles getting ready for the first of four foot races over the next 12 months.
Leonard is running as a member of Team First Descents, under the team “Deputy T”, and will compete in the Portland Holiday Half Marathon on Dec. 16. His goal is to raise as much awareness, and funds, for a program known as First Descents, started by Montana native and World Champion Kayaker Brad Ludden.
First Descents is a camp for young adults battling cancer. “I met Brad years ago, while flying in the Flathead Valley area. Brad was getting his (pilot’s) license and we became friends.”
Leonard went on to say, “What struck me was here is this kid, on top of the world, a champion, sponsored kayaker, and instead of partying and blowing this fame and fortune like so many young people, he starts a foundation for cancer patients”.
More information on First Descents can be found at www.firstdescents.org .
Leonard, a former collegiate cyclist at the University of Florida, is putting in between 20 and 30 miles a week currently. “I don’t know how many thousands of miles I’ve run while serving in the military, but this is different” says Leonard. “I’m older now, and no one is yelling at me to run faster, and I’m not preparing for war.”
Leonard says his focus is on getting as many people to take a look at themselves, realize how lucky they are and give back to those who are battling this debilitating disease. “You get up in the morning, and you are tired. You’re sore. You don’t want to go to work” Leonard says “in contrast, these young people get up in the morning, knowing that this disease is at work inside of their bodies, trying to kill them. They don’t complain. In fact, they don’t even sit around and mope…what they do is go to a camp that teaches them that they are stronger than they ever imagined, and they hang it out there on the edge.” And that is what Leonard is trying to raise funds for.
The First Descents camps are free to young person’s battling cancer, but it only works if people donate.
Leonard has a website set up through First Descents where you can donate directly to the foundation at: http://teamfd.firstdescents.org/2012/fd/deputyt/terry/
“Listen,” Leonard says “it’s not about me, or the running, or even the cancer. First Descents is one of the most awesome organizations I’ve ever seen or have had the honor to be associated with, but what this is really about is realizing that there is so much you can do to help others. Do I want people to donate to my chosen cause? Absolutely!”
He goes on to say, “But what I really want is for people to get out there and donate to something. Donate time, donate five dollars, donate your intellect, run a mile or run a marathon, but do something. Open your eyes and realize how much good you can do. That’s what Brad, and First Descents have taught me over the years.”
Leonard is 43 years-old, married to Emily Bartlett of Whidbey Island, Wash., and has two children ages 9 and 5.