One of the world’s top competitive triathletes was in Los Gatos July 15 for a “short” 26-mile ride that raised money for breast cancer foundations. The ride was organized by Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino and his wife Leslee, but the star of the event was Ironman Chris McCormack.
Among his titles, McCormack lists the 2007 Hawaii Ironman World Championship and the 1998 and ’99 International Triathlon Union World championships.
McCormack’s mother died of breast cancer in 1999, which proved to be a pivotal moment in his life.
“When I won my last world title, I felt empty because I wished my mom had seen it,” McCormack said. “So I started working with breast cancer organizations.”
McCormack, who is from Australia, also started his own foundation and now donates 25 percent of his earnings to breast cancer groups. In about 12 months he raised $360,000 that was donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure fund, the Talbert Family Foundation and the Breast Cancer Foundation of Singapore.
“When my mom was dying and you’re in the cold face of the disease, it was nice to know those organizations were available,” McCormack said. “It tore our family apart.”
At 36, McCormack says he has plenty of racing days ahead of him, so his fundraising efforts are far from over. He also is setting an example for his two young daughters.
“I just wanted to do something and it’s good for my daughters to see me involved in community service,” he said. He added that because of his mother’s cancer, his daughters have a 50 percent chance of getting the disease.
The Guardinos, meantime, are avid bicyclists who have also felt the cruel sting of cancer. Carl’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer nine years ago and survived. In an odd twist of fate, his father was diagnosed with prostate cancer on the same day but did not survive the disease. As a result, the Guardinos and McCormack have a bond that goes beyond biking.
Although becoming the world’s best triathlete was once his singular goal, now McCormack says he’s found another calling in life.
“I’m honoring my mom. She was the foundation of our family,” he said.
The Los Gatos ride started at the Guardinos’ house near University Avenue, then over to Kennedy and Hicks roads and back. There were 22 riders, including executives from SunPower, 2Wire, Brocade, Plantronics and Progreso Financiero.
A reception for about 150 people was held in the evening, with the ride and party raising an estimated $18,000 for McCormack’s foundation.