Colleen is the mom of four young boys – including twins – ages 4-8, and lives in Chevy Chase, Md., just outside of Washington, DC. It was the summer of 2011 when she stumbled on Maya's blog. She was up til 2 am, in bed, sobbing, hugging her kids when she realized she had a calling. She wanted to help. But, how?
A month in to Colleen's subscription, Maya posted a link to a photo of a woman dancing on her 40th birthday. She looked completely healthy and was having a blast, but the post said she was now in heaven having a dance party with Ro. Who was this woman? Maya didn't go into much detail, but a little research led Colleen to the answer. The woman was Jennifer Goodman Linn, and she had just lost a seven-year battle to a rare cancer. One of the legacies that she had left behind was founding an event called Cycle for Survival (www.cycleforsurvival.org), a national indoor cycling fundraiser that raises money for rare cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering.
It was the perfect storm. Colleen was a veteran spinning instructor with 13 years of teaching behind her. And she taught at Equinox, which was a co-sponsor of the event. She had lost two other dear friends in their 30s in the last five years to rare cancer — both of whom were treated at MSK — and had been looking for a way to honor them. And then Ronan. Her calling was answered. It was time to stop focusing on what was wrong in the "Cancer World" and to help focus on how to make it right.
In the fall of 2011, Colleen began to passionately share Ronan's story with everyone she knew. Before long, TEAM ROCKSTAR was born. What started as a group of "I-only-see-you-at-6am-in-gym-clothes" people in DC has since grown to become a dedicated group of friends and friends-of-friends in two East Coast cities (Boston, too!) who have, under Colleen's leadership, raised more than $326,000 over the last 18 months – 100 PERCENT of which goes DIRECTLY to funding research for rare cancers. TEAM ROCKSTAR has finished the event as one of the Top 5 teams nationwide for the last two years and, each year, team members have collected an additional $1,000 for The Ronan Thompson Foundation — on top of the money they've raised for Cycle.
The team motto comes straight from the Urban Dictionary. "Rockstars: People who don't follow the rules, they make up their own. They go out of the way to be extraordinary, different from everyone else."
Colleen believes in starting movements, kicking cancer's ass, and bringing hope to as many people as she can. She crusades against cancer expecting nothing in return, but what she has gotten in return astonishes her – from the people she has met, to the love she has felt, to the hope she has fostered, to the teammates she has empowered. She believes that one person CAN make a difference and is more confident than ever that there WILL be a cure for cancer in her lifetime. She believes, like Jen did, that "without fear, anything is possible."
She thanks Maya and Ronan daily for their shared love of the color purple – but mostly for being the forces of nature that inspire her.
To learn more about Team Rockstar, visit:
To see our music video, visit:
To see event day photos, visit: http://mskcc.convio.net/site/PageServer?pagename=cycle_community_gallery
To read some press about Colleen, visit: