Barbara Schmidt Millar died of cancer in 1995 at age 42. The Celebration of Life Triathlon is a tribute to her memory. Barbara was a loving wife and mother, beloved daughter and sister, a dedicated nurse, and a thoughtful, caring friend.
We miss her!!
Barbara graduated from Nevada Union High School in Grass Valley in 1971 as the class valedictorian. She then attended Fresno State and received her BS in Nursing in 1976. She was a nurse in both San Luis Obispo and Petaluma before settling down in Grass Valley to work at Auburn Faith Hospital.
Before her return to Grass Valley she married Charles "Chaz" Millar in l984. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in l987 which she overcame and survived. Their son, Stewart, was joyously born on December 18, 1990. Two years later, in 1992, Barbara was diagnosed with sarcoma of the brachial plexus. She fought a valiant and courageous battle for the next 3 years while raising her son, loving her husband and family, encouraging her friends, and being a loving Christian woman to everyone whose lives touched hers.
I met Barb in the local adult volleyball recreation league back in 1984 shortly after she got married. We quickly became friends, spending time together taking long walk-and-talks, going to the show, and of course playing volleyball.
When her second diagnosis of cancer placed her in hospice care I decided to do my first Danskin sprint triathlon in San Jose. Since I was only a runner I had to learn to swim a half mile and bike 12.5 miles. Not owning a bike made things difficult until a friend loaned me her 10 year old mountain bike. So began my training...learning to swim in another friends pond, learning to shift gears on a bike, and running as much as possible.
Barbara encouraged me constantly, enjoying my visits when I would ride the bike from my house to hers, showing up all hot and sweaty with disheveled hair and pooped out. When I triumphantly returned from completing my first triathlon to share with her my story, she was pleased to know I had done it in her honor.
It was then I decided to gather all of our female volleyball friends and to celebrate Barbara's life by doing a triathlon in her honor. She thought it was a novel idea.
Unfortunately Barbara passed away before that planned event happened. On October 1, 1995, the day following her memorial service, thirteen women faced the water and the hills of Cascade Shores. We struggled with strong emotions that morning. We had lost our beloved friend and we were afraid to face that water, but we also had Barbara's strength and love to carry us, so we took the plunge.
And now, years later, we continue to celebrate Barbara's life and the impact she has on our lives. That friendly little triathlon has swelled to 400 participants, easily double that in family and friends cheering from the sidelines, and over 150 volunteers.
The funds raised from this triathlon benefit the Women's Imaging Center of Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital for women who cannot afford their annual mammogram and to the Barbara Schmidt Millar Memorial Scholarship awarded female high school graduates of Nevada Union High School pursuing an education in the healthcare profession.
It is truly rewarding to those of us who were friends/family of Barbara to see the influence of her life and spirit affecting so many others' lives these many years later. May she continue to be an inspiration to us all.