2012 Kona Inspired winner Molli Serrano leaves an inspirational legacy for her family and the IRONMAN community.
Found on Ironman.com and written by Kevin Mackinnon
Molli Serrano burst into the hearts of triathletes around the world when she submitted her video to the Kona Inspired program seeking a chance to compete at the 2012 IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. The 38-year-old mother of seven-year-old twins had overcome pancreatic cancer and was determined to fulfill her dream.
“If you honor me with your vote, I will go to Kona to show everyone who is facing this horrible disease that ‘Anything is Possible,'” Molli said at the end of that 90-second video.
A few months later she was in Kona, where she finished the race in 11:31—well under her goal time of 12 hours—surrounded by friends and family
“Going to IRONMAN was her dream, obviously,” says her husband, Juan Serrano. “That one day she made a statement to the disease: ‘You are not going to take me.’ Ultimately she succumbed to the disease, but we had a lot of happy, excited and good memories, highlighted by her IRONMAN finish.”
Molli passed away on Monday morning. Less than 24 hours later, Juan was stunned to find out just how much his wife’s story had affected people.
“She regularly went on a Tuesday morning ride,” he says. “Her two best friends, each on one of her bikes, and 250 people showed up at 6 o’clock in the morning. We rode out and hit it hard, just like she would have wanted.”
Molli did “hit it hard” throughout her triathlon career. She was introduced to the sport by Juan, who fondly remembers a speech the president of their tri club made shortly after she started, pointing out that within a few months Molli had gone from being three minutes behind her husband to just a few seconds.
“I made a firm statement that she would never beat me in a race and it was at the very next race that she beat me,” he says.
Already an IRONMAN finisher, she was training for IRONMAN Austria in 2011 when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. While she initially contemplated delaying the surgery to do the race, Juan and her doctors convinced her to start treatment right away.
“The real hero story would be getting through this and doing another IRONMAN,” her doctor told her. “I know you, and I know you can beat this.”
That would be no small feat. The statistics were not in Molli’s favor: she had a 20 percent chance of surviving the first year, a six percent chance of surviving through five years.
Molli had half of her pancreas, half of her stomach, her gall bladder and a good portion of her intestines removed. She went through six months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
“Triathlon and my dream of Kona got me through some of the hardest times of treatment,” she said.
“There was a portion of her training when she had a chemo pump in her back jersey and a hose ran to her chest,” Juan remembers. “She’d ride like that. The doctor said ‘This is really not that safe, but I know you’re going to do it anyway, so let me give you some tips so the incision won’t get infected.'”
Halfway through her radiation treatment, she was asked to lead a 62-mile (100 km) LiveStrong charity ride. Less than a year after that she was competing in Kona.
Molli was much more than just a great triathlete and inspiration to the IRONMAN community. She was also a fantastic mother to her now nine-year-old twins, Nicholas and Isabella, Juan says.
“She left a great foundation for them. They would go to the races with me and watch her race and she’d win,” he says. “She set them up for what was inevitably going to come so they’d have the best shot at surviving all of this.”
“It was a sad event when she was diagnosed, but her perseverance and everything that she did was really inspiring,” Juan adds.
“For me, to watch, and be her companion through all this … she inspired a lot of people.”
Of that there is no doubt. Just ask that crew who pushed so hard last Tuesday morning.
Originally from: http://www.ironman.com/triathlon-news/articles/2013/07/molli-serrano.aspx#ixzz2ZWFVszFA