Four years after his cancer diagnosis, 24-year old Chris Napoli is registered to race in the 2XU New York City Triathlon on July 1 to support Tackle Kids Cancer, a philanthropic initiative of the Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer.
“This is less about the anniversary of my diagnosis, and more about my appreciation for everyone at the Children’s Cancer Institute at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at Hackensack University Medical Center who guided me to this point,” Chris says. “I will race in honor of all the friends and families I have met through Tackle Kids Cancer, especially the kids who are still undergoing treatments and those who are no longer with us today.”
Chris was about to return to college for football camp when he received his diagnosis in July 2014.
“I was forced to put aside my regular student-athlete routine to undergo two and a half years of chemotherapy and hospital visits,” Chris says. “After successfully completing my first year of chemo treatments, I was cleared to return to college, ultimately completing my last few semesters while still undergoing chemo treatments and battling side effects.”
Chris graduated college in May 2017. His bi-monthly checkups continue.
“As a competitor, a triathlon was always in the back of my mind, it was always something I wanted to cross off my personal bucket list,” Chris says. “Racing in a New York City triathlon as a Tackle Kids Cancer athlete is an opportunity for me to give back to a Foundation that has done so much for me, while having the ability to inspire other kids and families who are going through cancer treatments.”
In remission since November 2016, Chris says he registered immediately after getting the all-clear from his doctors.
“We are deeply grateful to Chris for his extraordinary generosity of spirit,” said Helen A. Cunning, interim president and chief development officer of the Hackensack University Medical Center Foundation. “We will be cheering him on every step of the way as he gives his all to support the work of Tackle Kids Cancer.”
Chris is training for the 2XU New York City Triathlon, which is described as one of the premier urban triathlons, with a course that includes a 1.5k swim in the Hudson River, a 40k bike ride up the traffic-free Hudson Parkway into the Bronx and back, and a 10k trek across 72nd Street that finishes in Central Park.
“Every kid should have the opportunity to grow up and experience life to the fullest,” Chris says. “My work with Tackle Kids Cancer stems from that point of view, to raise as much money as possible to fund research so that one day no child will have to face these challenges.”