Drew Women’s Lacrosse Coach Julia Steier Fights Cancer in Her Spare Time
Her indoor cycling honors her late husband.
When Drew Women’s Lacrosse Coach Julia Steier lost her husband to a rare liver cancer in November 2013, she had no idea his death would lead her to giving a speech in the middle of Times Square in front of thousands of people.
Steier’s husband, George Kraynak, died just two months after the couple married. As she grieved, Steier started working out at an indoor cycling gym. The following February, she and the members of the Drew women’s lacrosse team participated in a four-hour bike-a-thon to raise money for Memorial Sloan Kettering, where her husband had been treated.
“Those girls changed my life, they didn’t have to ride next me, but they did. In my darkest days, they showed me love, and I realized that strength is in numbers,” said Steier.
The event was part of the national Cycle for Survival campaign, a nonprofit organization that raises money for rare cancer research and is an official charity for Memorial Sloan Kettering.
At the invitation of Cycle for Survival, Steier was invited to cycle in the middle of Times Square at a kick-off event for their fundraising season. So on September 19, on what would have been her first wedding anniversary, Steier talked about her husband’s love of bicycling and how her participation in cycling has become a kind of therapy for her.
“Being a widow is a very lonely journey, but being here, on my anniversary I feel that I’m honoring George by doing something we both loved to do.”
Steier said as lacrosse season winds down, she is gearing up for an upcoming Cycle for Survival fundraiser in February. And as before, she won’t be alone; her lacrosse team members, their parents, and alumni will be at her side.
For Steier, speaking in Times Square brought on a jumble of feelings, some sad and some hopeful, but all resilient. “I look out at all of you, and I can feel the strength and energy radiating into the air. We’re all here with a common goal,” she told the crowd. “I challenge you all to close your eyes, and imagine that person you love or that goal you want to achieve, and embrace the strength that surrounds us today.”
For more information, to join an event, and to make a donation, visit Team Kraynak’s page at the Cycle for Survival website.