The Santa Barbara Triathlon will kick off its 28th annual swim-bike-run event this weekend, a benefit for the Cancer Center of Santa Barbara’s Cancer Well-Fit Program.

Over the years, the Santa Barbara Triathlon and its athletes have raised more than $330,000 in support of many worthy causes.

“We are extremely honored and grateful to be the beneficiary of this year’s triathlon and to be benefiting from its presenting sponsor Montecito Bank & Trust’s additional fundraising efforts,” wellness manager Christine Brown said. “Funds raised through the 2009 triathlon will enable our internationally-recognized Cancer Well-Fit Program to be offered at no cost to cancer survivors in Santa Barbara County.”

The Cancer Well-Fit Program is a small group exercise curriculum uniquely designed for individuals who have recently become de-conditioned or chronically fatigued from their cancer treatment and/or disease. Local resident Julie Main helped launch the program in 1993 as a positive way of turning her breast cancer diagnosis into a positive outcome for the community. To keep up with local demand, 14 Well-Fit groups are held per year.

Presenting sponsor Montecito Bank & Trust has added three fundraising vehicles to the mix this year. It will donate $25 to the Cancer Center for every new bank account opened before Oct. 30 with a bank coupon affiliated with the triathlon. Coupons will be handed out to all 2,000 racers in their race bags as well as to anyone who stops by the Montecito Bank & Trust booth throughout the weekend. In addition, every Friday for a month, the bank’s employees will be offered the option to wear jeans in exchange for a $5 donation to the charity, and the bank employee who raises the most money for the Cancer Center (a minimum donation of $500 is required to qualify) will get a free day off of work.

For the first time this year, the triathlon will present the new annual Barbara Warren Community Spirit Award to honor the memory of Warren, a world-class athlete who died after last year’s event. The award will go to the individual who raises the most money.

For those who would like to watch this year’s triathlon, the start and finish lines will be at the Cabrillo Bathhouse at East Beach, 1118 Cabrillo Blvd. in Santa Barbara. The triathlon will include one long course that will begin at 7 a.m. Saturday, and two shorter sprints that will start at 7 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. Sunday. All three events include an ocean swim, bike ride and run of varying distances. A Sports Expo (open to the public) and check-in will be from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday.

— Jonatha King is a publicist.