Griege galvanizes campus community

H-O-P-E, an acronym for How Ordinary People Endure, was the inspirational message speaker Teri Griege brought to Bradley on Thursday night. Students and faculty members gathered in Neumiller Hall at 7 p.m. to hear the story of how she completed the Ironman World Championship while battling a six percent chance to live.

Caleb Weisman, a junior sports communication major, was responsible for bringing the speaker to campus, who has also appeared on The Today Show, NBC and ESPN.

Teri is a long-time close family friend. I reached out to her last year, and [I] was so excited she was willing to come to Bradley and share this amazing story, Weisman said.

The Ironman World Championship is the ultimate long-distance triathlon; it consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a marathon run with no breaks. This was the competition 48-year-old Griege was training for when she discovered she had Stage 4 Colon Cancer.

My first thought when I got home was to get on the internet and Google, and the number I found was six percent, Griege said. [Doctors] gave me a six percent chance to live, but when I saw that number, I remember thinking thats not me.

Griege said she was determined to fight cancer and be around for her husband and two kids, and set out to defy that number as well as fulfill her life-long goal of completing the Ironman.

At that time, I knew I had three things on my bucket list. First: to celebrate 25 years of marriage. Second: to see my children married. [Third:] to complete the 2011 Ironman Competition, Griege said.

Despite enduring rounds of extensive chemotherapy, Griege said she never stopped pushing herself to train.

I would ride my bike into chemotherapy every day, Griege said. My nurse once looked at me and said Youre extraordinary. Its funny that word is just ordinary with an extra in front. Im ordinary but I endure. Thats how I came up with H-O-P-E.

Mikki Tran, a junior health science major, said she was moved by Grieges dedication and pure persistence.

I was inspired by the enthusiasm and just the passion she had for accomplishing her goal, Tran said.

This passion turned into success when Griege overcame all odds, crossing the tape of the National Ironman Competition cancer-free with her family waiting to celebrate.

My dream is for all of you to feel that sense of accomplishment some day, Griege said. You should all have a big goal to work towards, whether its swimming across an ocean or painting a masterpiece.

As she closed, Griege left the audience with three final pieces of advice to carry with them.

One: you’re never too old or too young, two: youre never alone, and three: never, ever let anything allow you to give up your dream, Griege said.