SWFL dentist enters first Ironman race at age 60 to raise support for children with cleft palates

How far would you go to help someone smile? For Toniann Conte, that answer is hundreds of miles.

Before beginning her day-job as a dentist in Bonita Springs, the 60-year-old Sanibel woman wakes up at 3 a.m. and spends hours training for her first Ironman Triathlon.

“This will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Dr. Conte said. “This is the most difficult one-day race in the world.”

That race in Arizona on November 24th will require Conte to swim 2 1/2 miles, then bike 112 miles, and finish with a 26.2 miles run. She plans to go the distance with Team Smile Train to raise awareness and money for people with cleft palates, a birth condition affecting someone’s opening in the roof of their mouth and lip and often hindering their abilities to use their mouth.

“I feel like when I wake up in the morning, I wanna do something really great and I wanna leave the planet in a better place,” Conte said. “I’m almost to nine thousand dollars.”

Conte said her goal is to raise at least $10,000 that will go directly towards children with cleft palates receiving corrective procedures. Her efforts are inspiring people in Southwest Florida.

“She’s unbelievable,” said coworker Mary Trimp. “She’s up at 3 o’clock in the morning in all types of weather..you go girl!”

“I think it’s really amazing to watch her training,” said Conte’s husband, David Burrus. “She puts this effort into it and then works a full day and then does it again, she gets home at 7:30 p.m. after swimming at the gym.”

As she continues spending about 20 hours, 6 days a week, training for her Ironman Triathlon, Conte offers this advice to all:

“Be positive. Be confident. Have the courage to do something that you’re really not comfortable with or feel like you can’t do because I think we put too many limitations on our self.”

If you would like to help out Dr. Conte you can visit her donation page here.

Reporter:Melinda Lee
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