My road to London 2013—paved by relentless 4 a.m. wake-ups, thousands of training miles, and hundreds of hours of physical and mental preparation—was to culminate in a victory lap of sorts. However, it turned into a year of unexpected trials, adversity, and growth that showed me the beauty of sport as a way to inspire generosity and community amid tragedy.
The first leg of my victory lap was to be the 2013 Boston Marathon. I had finally qualified, registered, planned my trip and booked a hotel for me and my family on Patriots Day weekend. However, I spent most of race day not running, but rather recovering from surgery on my injured leg.
Unlike many others who were less fortunate on that Patriots Day in Boston, my injury did not result from a senseless and cowardly attack. Instead, a training injury and subsequent surgery had caused me to cancel my trip to Boston just days before the marathon. I watched in horror as the athletes and fans in Boston—who should have been enjoying their personal victory lap—dealt with calamity, heartache, and disaster.
While I continued to recover, the tragedy in Boston pushed me to get involved and rally a community to take care of one another. We did not have to look far to find a hero and his family who needed help.
My neighbor, US Army Specialist Jay Briseno, had been severely wounded in Iraq in 2003. Since that time, his family had sacrificed everything they had—their jobs, life savings, and freedom—to care for him around the clock. To contribute to a better life for this humble and gracious family, I decided to use my road to London as a showcase event that would inspire my community to embrace the Briseno family’s plight. I set out to gather contributions to established charities that would support his cause.
Through the help of dedicated philanthropists, I partnered with Azalea Charities, Helping a Hero, and the Quality of Life Foundation to raise funds toward building Jay and his family an accessible home in which they could continue to care for him. My friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors poured forth support with breathtaking generosity.
As I approach the finish line, I reflect that my road to London turned out to be a story in which injury, tragedy, and adversity turned an otherwise personal hobby into a beautiful and humbling journey so much larger than sport. Thank you to all who have made this journey so meaningful.
Read the Briseno family’s story of service and sacrifice at http://azaleacharities.org/