Be Not Afraid

Raising Money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

On September 11th, my wonderful brother, Clete, is participating in the Nation’s Triathlon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on my behalf.

I am touched and honored that my brother is training so hard to endure a triathlon in my name, and to raise money for the such an important organization. Not only does it mean the world to me, but it will positively affect my life and the lives of many people fighting blood cancers.  The Leukemia and Lymphoma society does an amazing job of providing people fighting blood cancers with information, support groups, and financial aid.  But most importantly, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society funds research, which is invaluable. For example, in the past five years alone, research has shown that a new form of chemotherapy (which I received) proves to be much more effective than the form previously used in fighting Primary Mediastinal Diffuse B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma (the type I have).  I am so incredibly grateful that there are organizations like The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society that fund such important and ground-breaking research, research that may have saved my life.

From day one of my diagnosis, I have been overwhelmed with love and support. This love and support has come from many different people, close friends and strangers, and from various parts of the country. In the midst of something so ugly – cancer – I have seen more beauty than I’ve ever seen before. This beauty has come in the form of compassion, prayer, generosity, and most of all, shared love.

Please know of my unending gratitude for all of your love and support, as well as your incredible generosity during my battle with cancer.  So many of you have already given so much to me and my family, but if you feel so inclined, please consider supporting my brother as he raises money for such an important cause by visiting his donation page at:

Brother, Sister, Baby

Also, please read Clete’s message below:

As many of you know, my sister Allison Willems McGinley was diagnosed with Lymphoma this February while 32 weeks pregnant.  I remember the morning I learned of her condition with a chilling clarity.  It was a cold and still day that didn’t portend to be any different than usual until I picked up the phone and heard my father’s strained voice. He sounded upset, and when he told me that Allison had been rushed to the hospital and the doctors had found a massive lump growing in her chest, I couldn’t believe the news. Allison was far too young to have cancer, and on top of that, there is no one more deserving of a long, healthy, and happy life.  Allison was only 26, but she had already devoted a lifetime of effort to charity from living with developmentally disabled adults to raising money for the families of the 9/11 victims while still in high school.  If there was anyone who didn’t deserve this, it was my sister.  And yet, when I walked into her hospital room, the reality of the situation left me numb.  Allison was lying there in pain, uncertain of her future and that of her baby, and there was almost nothing I could do to help.

As scary and uncertain as things were that day, Allison is a fighter – a person of tremendous strength and faith – who has refused to let cancer bring her down.  Just two weeks after being rushed to the hospital, Allison gave birth to John Paul McGinley, a sweet little boy with a strong name and mischievous laugh that brings joy to us all. Allison also recently finished six difficult rounds of chemotherapy and her test results are very promising.  In fact, the doctors expect that before long she will be completely cancer-free!


Despite this wonderful news, this year has been a struggle for Allison and our family. Quite simply, Allison has gone through a war and it has taken a toll on her, her husband Mike, my parents and family, and Allison’s many friends.  Yet, as difficult as things have been, it has also been a blessing.  Through the challenges we have faced, we have become closer, our lives enriched by an appreciation of family and friends and by an increased understanding of the importance of every moment we spend together.

I’ve tried to do what I can to help Allison, and in a couple of weeks, I am hoping to do just a little bit more by participating in the Nation’s Triathlon on Allison’s behalf.  My struggle as a triathlete will (hopefully) be short and minor compared to what Allison has gone through, but in addition to braving the waters of the Potomac River for my sister, I would like to show my support by making a $5,000 donation in her name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I can’t get there without your help, and to help me achieve this goal, I would ask you to please consider making a donation.  Your donation will show your support for Allison and will help others follow in her footsteps and beat this disease.

Thanks for your generosity to Allison, to our family, and to all of those facing similar challenges in their lives.  Your support is greatly appreciated.

Clete Willems

Baby Football


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