Melissa Kushnick, Austin, TX

Melissa and T.J.

Melissa and T.J. 

In 1996 Melissa Kushnick’s father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. T. J. Caplinger’s good friend was also diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma a few years ago. She is also doing well now.

Both turned to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training (TNT) to honor their loved ones and make a difference in the fight against blood cancer. And both relished the thought of meeting people with similar interests and running goals.

In separate parts of the country, they were both training in preparation to travel to San Francisco for the 2006 Nike Women’s Marathon, a Race to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Kushnick, began her training with the New York City chapter of LLS, but then moved to San Antonio and finished training with the South Texas chapter of LLS, where Caplinger, was also a member.

They met at a Wednesday afternoon practice. They had the same exact car – and that’s what sparked their first conversation.

“I knew from the moment I saw her, she was the one,” Caplinger recalled. “As soon as I left practice I called my friend and said, I know this sounds crazy but I just met the girl I’m going to marry.”

They began dating in September 2006 and did the Nike Women’s Marathon together in October. It was such a great experience that they agreed to return the following year.

And it wasn’t long before the idea began to take shape in Caplinger’s mind. “I wanted something unique and special,” said Caplinger. “I knew people had proposed at the finish line before so that’s why I went with the ‘one word at each mile’ plan.”

The first set of signs started at mile 21. At first Kushnick had no idea the signs were leading to a proposal. “I thought they were just going to be inspirational,” she said. But by mile 22 she was 99% sure. She was right.

Now Kushnick and Capligner have scheduled their wedding date for March 7, 2008 outside of Austin.

Both agree that being part of a supportive group where all share the common goal of wanting to find cures helped secure their bond. They are among many many couples who have met through Team In Training.

“I couldn’t have proposed the way I wanted without the support of my great friends at Team In Training,” said Caplinger. “Everyone that helped by holding the signs had run the event first and then returned to their designated spots to hold the signs. They gave up valuable recovery time to help me out and even ran back in with Melissa to be there at the finish line. I have to thank them and everyone as at LLS who helped me with this."

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