Money donated here will be given to the New Zealand and American Cancer Society. To help with their work in finding a cure, as well as helping to prevent cancer or detect it early, when it’s most treatable. They also provide people with the resources and support they might need to get through their cancer experience.
I believe in the power of the body over the mind. Our bodies have been built to endure far more then we give it credit for, we’re just too afraid to push it. But once you find the limits of the possible you can push past them into the impossible and that is when you discover something amazing, and you start to realize what you are actually capable of. Human’s are made up of three things; mind, body and spirit. They are all connected, the mind controls the body and the body controls the mind but the spirit overrules them both. When the mind wants the body to go, it tells it and the body goes, when the body gets tired and wants to stop it tells the mind and the mind tells it to stop. But, when the spirit kicks in and urges both to keep going, miraculously they can. We are capable of more then we think is possible, we just have to believe. I like to instill the message of mind over matter, that we can push our bodies further then our mind will let us, I also like to practice what I preach and prove that if you believe something and have the determination never to give up you can achieve anything you set out to do.
Now, I’m an athlete, sports person and coach. Growing up I played pretty much any sport that was made available, both team and individual. Now I have turned to coaching to encourage others to do the same and get the benefits that playing sport has. One thing I’ve found is that a sports game has very similar parallels and lessons relevant to life. The major one being, ‘it’s not fair’. Things don’t always go your way, the right person doesn’t always win and it only takes a few seconds to turn everything completely upside down. But the other lesson that sports teaches us, is that 9 times out of 10 it’s the team or individual that gives up the fight first that generally will lose the game. The moment we stop believing we can succeed and can win is the moment where we lose. I only really discovered running in my late teens/early twenties. When I was younger I was never the fastest or the best, in fact our cross county route went past my house, and I walked the whole way except for that part because my mum was outside filming, so I had to try and run the 100 meters until I could get out of her sight and start walking again. When I started playing soccer, my goalie coach told me I was too slow and not fit enough, but that sparked something in me. I knew I wasn’t the fastest out there, but I wasn’t going to let anyone outlast me. It started with the beep test, in high school, there was no way I was going to let the boys beat me, and even though I had no proper endurance training and played goalkeeper in soccer I managed to outlast all but one of every member in my class. It was then that I started to understand the power of the human spirit, how our body will only quit when we give up. It also made me see that you don’t have to look the part to be the part. When I moved to America for college I went to play soccer and somehow was roped into running indoor track. Now, I did not look like your typical distant runner, I had muscles, big thighs and probably ate for a snack what the others would eat in an entire day. But while I may not have had the physique I had the determination, I knew that when that gun went off whatever pace it was I would outlast them and keep going to the end. They say that race’s are divided into three parts. The first you run with your mind, the second with your body and the final part with your heart. This is again similar to life and the struggles it throws at us. When something happens, you attack it first with your mind, followed closely by your body and then to get through it to the very end, when you’re tired and feel like you can’t go on, you kick in the final part with your heart and spirit.
Unfortunately, the final kick doesn’t always end in the fairytale way, and not all struggles are won by the better person. Cancer has been the enemy for years and we are constant rivals with it. We’ve all known someone in our life that has battled with cancer, some may have lost the fight, and others may have been triumphant. However, we can all associate with it, whether it was a close friend, relative or friend of a friend. I am the same, in primary school my friend’s younger brother was diagnosed with cancer, a fight which he sadly lost at only age 6, I saw how it affected the entire school. I’ve watched my college roommate bury her mum to breast cancer, I’ve seen a track teammate also lose her mum too soon. I’ve watched a very close friend’s dad battle cancer for 7 years and saw it slowly deteriorate him until I no longer recognized him. He had once been a lively active man, with a twinkle in his eye, but was reduced to not much more than a corpse before he eventually gave up the fight. I myself, have had a scare with breast cancer, which, although luckily was just a scare, it made me realize it doesn’t take much for that scare to turn into reality. Cancer can strike anytime, to anyone. It doesn’t know race, religion, gender or age and it will take any victims. While this thought in itself is quite scary, what we need to understand is that although we are all at risk, humans have the power and knowledge to beat it. And I’m not just talking about medical breakthroughs and healthier lifestyles; I’m talking about the power and strength of the human spirit.
One of my biggest inspirations was a man named Mark Harmon. Mark was in a motorcycle accident when he was 25, he broke his C4 vertebrae leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, and he would never walk again. By the time I met him he had spent more time sitting then he had standing, the thought of this would be enough to break most people. I’m sure he struggled a lot with this, but he also had a choice, and he chose not to give up on living. He met his future wife while he was rehabilitating and together the raised two beautiful and amazing children. He gave back to the community in so many ways. Over the years he’d volunteered at the local school reading to the pupils there, he ran the fundraising committee for the high school boys lacrosse team, he organized carpool rides for the local classmates of his kids, and every valentines day eve he would go out with his son and daughter and put a red heart on all the windows and shops in town, he was Westbrook’s valentines bandit. From his chair Mark had run a business, created and maintained a loving and warm home, took in and cared for many cats and dogs and helped out anyone that he could. Just knowing him not only puts your own life into perspective, but also makes you realize how much more you can do for others.
One of Mark’s favourite words or phrases was ‘to Harmonize’ which meant to offer someone something before you realize you don’t have that thing to give and therefore you must take back your offer. Ironically it seems that Mark had been the biggest victim of Harmonizing, he had been given the gift of walking and it had been taken back from him. We often take for granted our abilities, the fact that after you finish reading this you can stand up and walk out of the room is a novelty in itself, and a luxury we underestimate. Mark didn’t have that luxury but he didn’t let that stop him either, he used his other gifts to help others and improve his life and everyone’s around him. Not only did Mark make me a better person and left me wanting to do more for others, he also made me realize that we need to use what we have and make the most of it while we can, because one day it could be gone. I want to do this run, not just because I can, but also because others can’t. I know that when I run Mark will be running right beside me, supporting and encouraging me the whole way. There are going to be many physical and mental obstacles, but knowing that every day I keep running and don’t quit it will inspire someone to also stay strong, and not give up, will be what it takes to get me through. I would be lying if I said that this was going to be easy, I would be lying if I said beating cancer would be easy, but just because it isn’t easy doesn’t mean its impossible. What will it take to get me through the obstacles? Knowing that every step I take brings me closer to the finish, knowing that every day I run gives someone inspiration in their own life and basically because I don’t know how to quit.
The most important reason I want to do this run however is to encourage people to be all they can be. If the world ended tomorrow would you have any regrets? Were you compassionate to others? Did you take advantage of your strengths and improve your weaknesses? I don’t want to look back and say I lead an ordinary life that just went by, I want to make a difference and I want to encourage others to do the same. If you throw a small rock into a pond it creates a ripple, but if throw a hundreds rocks it creates a wave. Every day people face different challenges and struggles, the strength it takes to get through to tomorrow comes from within, but a helping hand to guide the way makes the journey more bearable. Not only do I want to be that helping hand but I also want others to be the same, so together we can make the wave and ride it through life.
Click on picture to see the 207 interview on WCSH 6, Portland ME!