Tom Kaisersatt is the founder of San Jose Fit, an organization that trains runners and walkers to complete long distance events and has completed nearly 150 marathons in his lifetime. He has never been concerned with how fast he completed the races or what place he finished, but rather helping those he trained realize their goals by completing the races. If you asked any of the other members of San Jose Fit, they would agree that Tom is an incredible person. However, they would site very different reasons.
Last June, Tom was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Despite his condition, he still wanted to try and run in the Silicon Valley Marathon. As a result of Tom’s mesothelioma, he was not able to run the Silicon Valley marathon in traditional fashion however. A special agreement was made with Race Director, J. T. Service, that enabled Tom to start the race five weeks ahead of time, tackling it in one and two mile increments. One of the head coaches at San Jose Fit, Mike Garcia, can be credited with orchestrating Tom’s special arrangement that allowed him to run the race over time. He absolutely lives for this, says Garcia. When I heard that he wanted to do the race, I told him wed make it happen. Then we talked to J. T. Service about giving Tom credit for the miles hed walked in the weeks before the race, ordered the shirts and started spreading the word.
J.T. Service didn’t even have to think about the request. It was the easiest decision of my life. First of all, Toms been connected with our race since it began, either as a runner or as a coach. Second, this showed me how many people hes touched and inspired. And, my moms a two-time cancer survivor, so this was a no-brainer for me.
As Tom had 5 miles of the race left to complete, Tom went through his fourth round of chemotherapy. Doctors will soon be deciding if he is eligible for extra-pleural pneumonectomy, a procedure to remove his right lung. Tom walked the last 5 miles, only stopping once, and even completed it an hour quicker than expected. All the while he was accompanied by different team members who took turns helping him finish as he had done for them many times before. When Tom finished he was greeted by his teammates’ cheers, hugs, and kisses.
When it was time for the other team members to race, Tom was right there to cheer them on. He greeted them all at the start of the race where they all adorned their ‘Team Tom’ yellow t-shirts to show their support and love for the man who had helped them conquer their challenges in running.
Tom has definitely touched many people, and it’s quite clear through their reactions to Tom’s diagnosis. Becky Bender was touched by Tom right from the get go when she was a struggling beginner in San Jose Fit. I was always one of the last people in, and felt so awful about holding everyone up. But to Tom it never mattered. He is very much the ideal coach.
Becky has become a large part of Tom’s care. She drives him to many of his doctor appointments and has even created an online calendar where other members of San Jose Fit bring home cooked meals to Tom.