Sunday, February 08, 2009

Time to Give Back

When I'm not making web pages, working with our programmers to create new quoting tools for GeoQuote, or changing diapers (my kids still aren't potty trained yet), I like to do triathlon. Swimming, cycling, running - they all help to keep my blood flowing to my most important muscle: my brain. I began doing triathlon in 2005 at the last-minute request of a friend and Telarus agent, Jason Oliver. Although the first race was a horrible experience, it left me wanting to get better; better equipment, better training, better prepared. I signed up for some more races, trained hard every day, and wouldn't you know it, I went from almost last to almost first. Then, I got it in my mind to become an Ironman - like the ones you see on TV every November riding across the big island of Hawaii. 140.6 miles ... wow. I hired a coach, got new race wheels, and began to train like never before, for hours on end. In June 2008, with the help of all of the training, my coach, and the right equipment, I finished the 140.6 course in 11 hours, 24 minutes. The thrill and sense of accomplishment overwhelmed me. M-dot (the slang for finishing an official Ironman race) was mine, and no one could ever take it away from me! To get a sense for how I felt about the accomplishment, I instructed my wife to engrave the M-dot symbol on my gravestone so everyone who ever saw my grave would know that an Ironman lay 6-feet under where they stand!

Finishing that triathlon did more for me mentally than physically. It's a feeling that can cure depression, desperation, self-pitty, or any feeling that brings someone down. It's a feeling that I'd like to help bring to people who battle with those feelings everyday they wake up: injured Iraq veterans. Through the Challenged Athlete Foundation, more and more wounded Iraq (and Afghanistan) vets are being helped out of their wheelchairs and into the water, and onto a bike, and into a specialized cycle-chair - for Ironman California (70.3 miles). I've done the race twice myself in the past, and I'm planning on doing it again on April 3, 2009. However, this time I'm racing for the troops:

  • 1st Sergeant John Blue (lost leg below the knee in Iraq)

  • Colonel Patty Collins (lost her leg below the knee)

  • 2nd Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell (lost her leg above the knee in Iraq)

  • Former Reconnaissance Marine Oscar “Oz” Sanchez (spinal cord injury)

  • Sergeant Michael Gallardo (lost his leg below the knee in Iraq)

  • Corporal Evan Morgan (lost his left leg below the knee, right leg above the knee and vision in one eye in Iraq)

  • Petty Officer 1-Class Casey Tibbs (lost his leg below the knee)

  • Ret. Staff Sergeant Chris Chandler (lost his leg below the knee in Afghanistan)

If you would like to join me and lend a helping hand to John, Patty, Melissa, Oz, Michael, Evan, Casey, and Chris, please donate what you can to the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

For me, the war is a whole lot more personal when you're running next to one of these heroes. This year, my conscience won't let me run by without knowing I did all I could to show my thanks and appreciation. Thanks in advance for your support.

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