In the summer of 2015, after 10 years of trying to qualify for Kona, I was finally able to qualify in my own back yard in Boulder Colorado. I had chased a slot to Florida, Canada, and England. All this time my family supported me and kept encouraging me. I always promised that if I made it, I would bring the whole family as a thank you for all their love and support. And that’s what I did. My daughter had just had her first child, my second grandson. He was Maxwell (Max) and at the time he was only 2 months old.
Race day came and went on the beautiful shores of Kona. I did not have my best performance, having crashed on my bike just a few weeks earlier. But that was not important, I had been able to accomplish a long time dream after many years of training and sacrifice by the whole family at times. As a family we were all able to spend 12 days together on the best vacation we had probably ever had. I had spent 26 years in the Army, so as a family we were always being separated by deployments. My son and his family live in Japan since he separated from the Air Force in 2002. My daughter spent a few extra years in Germany after I retired, and we had not been all together in many years. Life was wonderful.
Afterwards, everyone returned to their respective homes. I wasn’t sure if I was going to still have the drive or want to return to Kona. You know, “Been there, done that”. I figured I would probably be happy with racing 70.3’s and an occasional IM or Marathon for fun. But in just a few months, when Max was only 5 months old, he was all of a sudden being airlifted to the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC). Here he was diagnosed with Pre-B-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) MLL-R with testicular involvement. The docs put him in a medically induced coma to slow everything down. They gave him less than a 20% chance of surviving. But little Max fought like a champion and slowly came back to us. This is when we dubbed him “Mighty Max”. He spent 180 straight days in the hospital and a total of two years in a Chemotherapy regimen. It was terrible watching this. The doctors and staff at RMHC saved his life.
2016 was a non-training and racing year for me. I spent as much time as possible with Max and just wasn’t able to enjoy myself while Max was fighting for his life on a daily basis. Max finally beat the cancer (for now) and is in remission. Unfortunately, because of what they call a “Bad Gene”, Max only has a 20% chance of seeing adulthood. Right now there is no sure cure. We all just pray he is in that 20% success margin.
In 2017 I raced myself back into shape. I needed something positive to think about and keep my mind off of what seemed like the inevitable. Right now Max is just like any other 4yr old boy, silly, fun, happy, and not a care in the world. I can’t help but feel helpless, waiting for something to turn bad. In the Army, I knew what it took to defeat the enemy, more beans, bullets and bravery than the other guys. With this enemy called cancer, there isn’t anything we know to defeat it. Yet!
While going through this ordeal with Max, I learned a lot about the wonderful charities out there that do incredible passionate things to help families get through these types of crisis. I and my daughter are forever grateful for them. But I also learned that of all the cancer research money spent and allocated; only a minute percentage goes towards pediatric cancer research; doesn’t seem right does it? So in 2018 I decided that if I could accomplish something noteworthy, I would use that accomplishment to help raise money towards pediatric cancer research. And just maybe, some of this would lead to a chemo regimen that might one day be needed by Max to defeat this cancer enemy for good. Beans and bullets won’t help, but bravery and money can.
So this past year, 2018, I was able to qualify for both the 2019 Boston Marathon in April and the Ironman World Championship in Kona in October. Hence the tag line Boston-2-Kona-4-Mighty Max. Probably not a whole lot of folks have done this in the same year. I have partnered up with the American Cancer Society (ACS). They got me all set up with a fund raising site, I now have a STRAVA account, an Instagram account, and Facebook. All of which I have not had much interest in before now. But I am on a mission. I want to raise as much as possible for pediatric cancer research specifically. All funds go directly to ACS through the site and not me. I want people to be assured the money gets where it should, and this isn’t going to turn out negatively as some other efforts have.
The reason for all the social media accounts is to get the awareness out there. I want to reach as many people as possible to increase the possibility of reaching my goal of ten thousand dollars, I’m still figuring it all out, but I’m getting there. I hope to capture the attention of media. Usually, unless you have a lot of followers and “Likes” not much attention is paid to your cause. Ideally I would love to inspire the imagination of Ironman and NBC this year to do one of their human interest stories they are famous for on pediatric cancer research, and the need for funding. These winter months, I usually spin to one of the NBC Kona shows. They keep me motivated. I have them all since 2000 and rotate through them. They’ve never done children’s cancer research, at least since 2000.
If you can make a donation, wonderful, even a $10 donation adds up. And please Follow and Like my other pages. Along the way, maybe I can provide a nugget or two of information that might help you out with your training and goals. I will be sharing all my workouts on STRAVA and share insights to what has worked, or not worked, for me over the years. I have been running for 45 years with a Marathon PR of 2:36 and have been in Triathlon for 20 years with an IM PR of 10:45 (In my 50’s). So I think I can say “Been there, done that”. Maybe I can help. Mighty Max shows me every day that anything is possible. This is all for you Max!
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