Brock triathlon in honour of athlete who lost battle with cancer

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I felt alone. I never imagined how many people I would inspire with my story.” –Naomi Cermak (1982-2013)

In 2013 at the age of 31, Naomi Cermak (MSc ’06) lost her battle with metastatic melanoma cancer. She continues to inspire others to fight and find a cure.

This summer, Brock University’s Faculty of Applied Health Sciences and the Department of Athletics and Recreation are looking for triathlon participants to support a graduate student scholarship in memory of Naomi Cermak. The triathlon will take place on Thursday, July 21 at Brock.

“The development of this scholarship will help us remember Naomi, as both a researcher and an athlete,” says Tineke Cermak. “My daughter was an amazing young woman who was still writing papers and mentoring students while undergoing treatment.”

At the time of her diagnosis, Cermak was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Maastricht in Holland and her papers on beet root juice and performance are still cited by researchers.

“We want to honour Naomi’s memory through the development of a graduate student scholarship and raise awareness of melanoma cancers and the importance of skin protection, particularly among athletes,” says Department of Kinesiology Chair Brian Roy.

For a number of years, the Brock community has embraced the sport of triathlon, with several small indoor and outdoor events each year.

“This summer, one of our annual try-a-tri events is aiming to become a little more meaningful,” says Athletics and Recreation Fitness Manager Eric Walter.

The Naomi Cermak Tri to Inspire Memorial Event will remember and celebrate her life in a meaningful way, says Walter.

Cermak is remembered by those who knew her as a friendly, optimistic individual who always looked on the bright side and inspired thousands with her drive to train for a 226-kilometre triathlon while undergoing painful treatment for cancer.

Suffering from metastatic melanoma, Cermak managed to strength train from her hospital bed and rode a stationary bike when the pain was bearable. In between doctors’ visits, she participated in yoga and swam.

“As part of her swim training, she headed north to Georgian Bay where she wore a special wet suit to shield her skin from the sun, which needed extra protection as a result of the side effects from the cancer medications,” explains Roy.

Despite her efforts, Cermak withdrew from the triathlon because her immune system was compromised and her health was deteriorating. Cermak lost her battle with cancer and died on Dec. 14, 2013.

You can show your support and participate in the Naomi Cermak Tri to Inspire as an individual or as a team.

The memorial event will begin at noon in the Eleanor Misener Aquatic Centre with a 150m or 400m swim followed by a 10km bike ride and 2km run. Following the event, participants are invited to join the Farmer’s Market in Jubilee Court.

The first 50 people to register for the event will receive a Badger Balm sun care product courtesy of the W.S. Badger Company, Inc.

Representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society of Niagara will be at the Farmer’s Market during the month of July to provide information about melanoma and metastatic cancers and the importance of sun protection.

To register, contact the Athletics and Recreation Welcome Desk at 905-688-5550 x4060 or

Date: Thursday, July 21, 2016

Triathlon starts: noon

Cost: $20.00 (includes complimentary lunch)

Visit and select Naomi Cermak Graduate Student Scholarship on the gift designation drop down menu to make a contribution.

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