Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Gregg Radloff is training for an Ironman Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) to raise funds to fight childhood cancer, in honor of family friend Taylor Brooks, a Collins Hill High School student that died of cancer a few years ago.
SUGAR HILL -- Gregg Radloff is using the inspiration of a lost friend to drive him as he competes in one of sports' most grueling events.
Radloff, the son of longtime Gwinnett County school board member Louise Radloff, will be competing in the Louisville Ironman triathlon next weekend trying to raise money for the Taylor Brooks Foundation, named for a former Collins Hill student who has left a legacy of giving long after cancer took her life.
An Ironman event consists of the testing combination of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2 mile run, one after another with 17 hours to complete. Today's Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky, will be the first for the 50-year-old Radloff.
"Like a lot of people, you want to do something, but you're always looking for the right time," Radloff said. "It dawned on me that maybe the right time would never get here. I focused on something else, finding a better reason, and that's been the motivation to get it done."
That "better reason" is childhood cancer.
On April 1, 2008, 14-year-old Taylor Brooks lost her battle with cancer after less than a year of fighting. The Brooks and Radloff families had been friends for a decade, with Gregg's daughter and Taylor's older sister playing soccer together.
In the six months since Radloff decided this was his motivation to fulfill a 20-year dream, Taylor has been on his mind.
"Ordinary people do extraordinary things," Radloff said. "I'm just doing this. But then there are extraordinary people like Taylor that, when she knew it was dire circumstances, she found places in her heart and soul to do more for the children around her.
"That helps me in realizing what's important and what's not, and support the cause."
Radloff has set the lofty goal of raising $5,000 for the Taylor Brooks Foundation, founded to help promote awareness and raise funds for the treatment of childhood cancer.
Donations can be made to Radloff's fundraising site at www.active.com/donate/TaylorBrooksFund/IM4Taylor or directly to the foundation at www.taylorbrooksfoundation.org.
Radloff was training on the day of his 50th birthday when the magnanimity of the task -- and the cause -- really hit him.
"It was about 94 (degrees), and it was not a good training day," he said. "Through that morning, it got me by knowing that I could not quit. I had to work toward the goal. So it's a little hot and I'm running 22 miles.
"These kids who are ill, they don't quit."