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River Falls triathlon: Time to show up and try for Grace

Grace Goblirsch helped the high school swim team break a relay-race speed record. <i>Submitted photos</i>

Rather than just give to a worthy cause in some abstract way, Lynn Huiskamp decided to organize a fundraiser that was tangible and rigorous. Participants would have to work it.

Huiskamp hopes that will make Tri4Grace -- a "sprint triathlon" -- truly meaningful.

Tri4Grace will start Saturday morning, April 27, at the high school.

You can register now for $30 until April 12 . You can also donate any amount at any time.

The April 27 triathlon -- 500 yards of swimming (20 lengths of the pool); biking, 10 miles; and two miles of running -- is being held on behalf of Grace Goblirsch, a 2011 RFHS graduate, now a sophomore at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota.

She was diagnosed in December with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a fast-growing cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

All profits from the April 27 Tri4Grace will go toward the Minnesota chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Huiskamp has been the high school girls swim coach for nine years and the boys swim coach the past two years. She began in 1997 as a local swim club coach.

Huiskamp has known the 20-year-old Goblirsch for almost 10 years. While coaching her as a swimmer, she found many admirable traits.

"Grace did not always have a lot to say," Huiskamp said. "She led by her actions, by doing. She's not shy, but she's not an extroverted person seeking praise or needing attention.

"Grace is a very competent athlete who always wanted to grow and learn. She never showed fear when I tried to push her harder."

Huiskamp said Goblirsch's leading-by-example helped spark the girls swim teams and "raised the performance bar for them quite high."

"She was a wonderful layer of glue that helped to bind our teams."

Huiskamp was crushed when she first got news about Goblirsch's condition. Ironically, Huiskamp a trained microbiologist, did leukemia research for several years in the 1980s at the University of Minnesota. She's familiar with the AML disease and its variations.

Huiskamp says "cancer is indiscriminate where it lands." And now, she added, it has "hit close to our community's 'swim' home."

When the boys high school swim team ended its season last month, Huiskamp began thinking of something that could be done -- something of meaning to the Goblirsches, "a very giving family."

"So many of us are connected electronically and can almost voyeuristically know a lot about each other," she said. "But for Grace, I really wanted to create some way we, this community, could show her support that would go beyond the click of a "Like" button.

"Do something meaningful by giving to the Goblirsch's choice of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and go after the tough mental and physical challenge of a triathlon with Grace in our minds.

"Actions really can be profoundly more moving than words. That is my challenge to the community.

Huiskamp would appreciate any business or corporate donations, either in the form of food, money or both. Volunteers to oversee event activities are also needed.

Contact Huiskamp at

To register or donate for Tri4Grace, go to You can also drop off a donation at First National Bank in River Falls or mail one to Tri4Grace/P.O. Box 216/River Falls, WI 54022.

For those who don't want to swim, a "Duathlon" option as part of the Tri4Grace benefit has just been added. This is 10 miles of bicycling and two miles of running.

For the complete story, please see the March 21 print edition of the River Falls Journal.