They say you can run from your troubles, but Leland student Talia Yaakoby would rather run, bike and swim for a cure. At just 13 years old, Yaakoby has founded and organized the Kristie Yaakoby Memorial Triathlon to honor her late mother, who battled cancer. The triathlon will take place at 9 am on Saturday, June 20 in Leland.
Yaakoby wants to support cancer research so that other families don’t have to experience what her family endured. She thought a triathlon would be the perfect memorial for her mother because Kristie Yaakoby participated in many during her college years. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City.
Karen Kirt, a fifth and sixth grade teacher and cross country coach at Leland Public School, guided Yaakoby along throughout her planning process. She said the whole school is involved in supporting Yaakoby. For example, the high school visual 3D class crafted tiles in memory of her mother, which will be given out as prizes to the triathlon winners.
Kirt said Yaakoby sought out her help in August and since then the two have met almost weekly since October, including attending two township board meetings to get approval on the event. Kirt says she is impressed by Yaakoby’s work ethic, the countless hours she put into organizing the triathlon and how well spoken she is at meetings.
“We discussed the plan together and both laid out ideas,” says Kirt. “But Talia was an integral part of all the planning.”
“I’d like my mom to be remembered for who she is: my mom, everyone’s friend and importantly a role model,” Yaakoby reflects. “I would hope that she would be remembered for her ferocity towards life, and the way she embraced everything good and bad.”
Racers can participate in the inaugural Kristie Yaakoby Memorial Triathlon as individuals or as teams of up to five people, and all ages are welcome. The 1.5 km swim, 40 km bike and 10 km run will start and end at Bartholomew Park on Nedows Bay in Leland. Online registration for the event is available until Friday, June 19th at noon. Late registration will also be available on Friday, June 19th from 3-6 p.m. at Leland Public School.