It all began with having to take the first step. Four years ago, I left the “comfort” of working for a large international company in New York to join a small, dynamic company in Fort Collins, CO. Leaving the Mothership is hard enough for most people. Not only was I moving my family across the country and asking my wife to leave her career, I was asking them to rely on me and my dreams. For all I knew, I was going in blind – literally.
The lifestyle change took some adjustment, but it allowed me to reflect on what I want out of life. In the summer of 2009, as my vision had deteriorated significantly over the previous years, I came to the realization that I could either approach my forties wishing I could do more or get out and do it. Why not, I was going to hit forty whether I liked it or not. So, I laced up and took to the wonderful bike lane system of Fort Collins. With no central vision but a little peripheral sight, I plodded along following the lines, bumping into a few parked cars on the way.
I finally got up the courage to sign up for a local half marathon – nothing like a little fire under my feet to motivate myself. Our city’s running club sent out an email blast requesting a guide who would be interested in running with me. The response was overwhelming but the first email came from Connie DeMercurio, who has been my running partner ever since. Her fierce dedication and determination only made me want to improve myself. How can you not take running seriously when someone is there supporting you with her whole being? Rain, heat, snow....Connie was always ready to drive me to new heights and sometimes ugly lows. With the addition of Rhonda Mcgownd I never lacked a running companion nor a reason to race.
I completed my first marathon, the Rock and Roll Denver in 2010 and was hooked. I tried tempting my good friend and endurance sport enthusiast, Charles Scott, to run the 2011 Colorado Marathon in May, but he was embarking on his own adventure of biking the circumference of Iceland with his two young children (http://icelandbikeadventure.blogspot.com). He threw back the idea of running the NYC Marathon together and generously offered to be my guide. Connie and Rhonda have also signed up and will be running along with Charles and me. I cannot express how lucky I am to have such support from great friends. With the help of Achilles International and my friends, I am able to run in one of the best marathons in my favorite city.
Achilles International is a worldwide organization that encourages people with disabilities to participate in long distance running with the general public by providing training, logistical support and race entry registration funding. Achilles athletes have all kinds of disabilities including paralysis, visual impairment, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, amputations, and traumatic brain injuries. Runners participate with crutches, tethers for the blind, in wheelchairs, or on artificial limbs. Dick Traum, the first amputee to run a marathon, founded Achilles in 1983. This November, approximately 250 Achilles athletes from all over the world will tackle the NYC Marathon.
I am blessed to have all that I need from my friends and family, and their support allows me to understand that it’s ok to surrender to assistance. I support Achilles so that others with a physical disability can break out of presumed limitations and take that first step towards their potential.
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