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Champion sisters raise money while they are tri’n for a cure!

Sisters and breast cancer survivors Anne Ruybal (right) and Tess Balsley (left) plan to compete alongside each other at the Ironman Triathlon Arizona on November 20. Together they hope to raise $140,600 toward finding a cure.

By Amy Shanahan, photo courtesy of Anne Ruybal

Anne Ruybal and her sister Teresa “Tess” Balsley are both breast cancer survivors, and together they are undertaking an enormous challenge to help find a cure. Ruybal, a 22-year resident of Happy Canyon, and her younger sister Balsley of Iowa are competing in the Arizona Ironman Triathlon on November 20th. Together they will swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, and run 26.2 miles, and hope to complete this in under 17 hours.

Ruybal was inspired to become a triathlete by her sister’s successes and amazing accomplishments. Balsley completed her first Ironman triathlon in 2006, and was training for her second and third when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Balsley continued training, and her spirit and determination led her to complete three Ironman triathlons in just eleven months, all while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments for her cancer.

In 2009, after watching her sister compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Kona, HI, Ruybal began training for her first triathlon. In a trick of fate, Ruybal was diagnosed with breast cancer in the fall of 2010, and, like her sister, she continued training. Since 2009 she has completed eight shorter distance triathlons, and this will be her first Ironman.

“I was motivated to become a triathlete as my sister continued to train for the Ironman through her breast cancer treatments. Since then, my path and hers have been woven with similar journeys through breast cancer and triathlons,” says Ruybal. “It’s important to me to realize my dream of becoming an Ironman and to maintain the fitness and health I have been blessed with.”

Ruybal and Balsley both tested negatively for the breast cancer gene, and it is not prevalent in their family. They are both one of the statistical one in eight women who will have invasive breast cancer at some point in her life.

These two inspiring women have teamed up with Susan G. Komen for the Cure to raise money for this cause. Together they hope to raise $140,600, which is the distance they will each cover in the Arizona Ironman Triathlon (140.6 miles), times a thousand.

“It’s become important to race with a greater purpose. That’s the reason for focusing fundraising efforts during our training leading up to Ironman Arizona,” said Ruybal.

“It’s an honor to be able to do all this, and so much more meaningful to do it alongside my sister. We have both come out as victors over cancer, and we will cross the finish line at Ironman Arizona victorious as sisters, triathletes and fundraisers for the Cure!” exclaimed Balsley.

To read more about these amazing women or to make a donation to their cause, visit



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