As our Team in Training athletes prepare for their summer races, I can’t go a practice without thinking of Mitch Kline. Mitch left the physical world on September 15th 2016, but he will always be with us. Mitch was a friend to all and a dear friend and supporter of Team in Training and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I had the honor of helping coach Mitch through four triathlons with our Eastern Pennsylvania chapter and I can honestly say that from our first meeting, it was very clear that Mitch was someone very special. A teacher and coach by profession, Mitch had a way of touching the hearts of everyone he met. Mitch was a humble, thoughtful, caring – give you the shirt off of his back – kind of guy.
Mitch was drawn to TNT and LLS through the loss of his beloved wife and high school sweetheart who was taken from him far too early. So Mitch raced in honor and in memory of “his girl” Sandee on the hybrid bike that she had given him and became one of the top TNT fundraisers along the way. Mitch was dedicated and committed to all things good and just in this world. His family, his faith, his ability to impact the athletes he coached, his community, and the list goes on. This was made even more apparent as we sat at Mitch’s funeral service. The outpouring of love from an overflowing room left our hearts feeling hollow and warmed at the same time. I only knew Mitch for about 5 years but while my relationship with him was relatively brief compared to many others at his service, it mattered and it was meaningful.
Mitch gave me far more than I ever could have given him. His coaching experience and life experiences far eclipsed mine and my fellow coaches. But he openly and eagerly embraced our triathlon training program as the legendary coach again became the learned athlete. Mitch worked hard. He was dedicated to his training and to the mission and never lost sight of his main source of inspiration; “his girl”. When Mitch was at a team practice, you knew it was going to be a more meaningful practice.
Mitch was one of those very unique guys who had the tenacity of a wolverine, yet the tenderness of a koala bear. Mitch was genuine. Mitch was the real deal. Mitch was the kind of guy that people wanted to be around and emulate. And if he were to read these words, he would be humbled to tears. Mitch wanted to serve. He found joy in making others happy and in bringing out their best. Boy do we need more Mitch Klines in this world.
So for those who knew Mitch in the triathlon and Leukemia & Lymphoma communities, I ask you to hold him near as you race this season. Think about the guiding principles that kept Mitch going every day. Be kind. Have faith. Work hard. Lend a helping hand. Live. Love. Laugh. Give. And appreciate all of your blessings.
“Be Like Mitch”
Steve Brown, After many years of playing high caliber soccer, Steve Brown traded in his soccer shoes & goalie gloves and turned his passions to multisport racing and never looked back. Since 1986, Steve has racked up countless multisport events of all distances, often racing for philanthropic causes.
In 2006, Steve was diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia. Since that time, Steve has undergone 54 rounds of chemotherapy to keep his leukemia in check and keep him in remission. Steve made it his mission to remain in motion throughout his cancer journey, often running home from chemo and scheduling races around his treatments. His diagnosis also drew him to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training program where he signed on as a triathlon coach to help others ealize their dreams while raising funds and awareness for blood cancers, like his own.
Steve leverages his own positive cancer experience by connecting with other patients and their family members as a volunteer mentor with a number of patient advocacy organizations and often speaks to audiences about his experience. As a contributing writer, his work has appeared in a number of regional and national print and online publications. Brown has also written five books, all of which relate to the intersection of his cancer and multisport lifestyle and the people he’s met throughout his journey.