I have a new idol…

The motivational speaker at my event on Sunday was Jason Fowler. At the age of 10, Jason was competitive in the sport of motocross, gaining his first official sponsor of Kawasaki by the tender age of eleven.. wowza. He was competeting 40 weekends a year across the US. At the age of 17, while practicing a stunt on his motorcycle, he was thrown from the bike and severed his spine. He is paralyzed from the chest down.

This has NEVER stopped him, or left him feeling like he “missed out” on a life he didn’t get to lead. Instead it has pushed him and inspired him retain his athleticism and turn it into something even MORE.

In 1991, Shortly after his accident, he was in his hospital bed when the coverage for the Boston Marathon began to show. He saw that hand cyclists were competing and immediately thought “I can do that”. He quickly set his sights on one day racing in Boston. Since that moment, He has successfully competed in hundreds of road races, over 30 marathons and a bunch of ironmans: including WINNING an ironman. How’s that for badass??

20131208-225448.jpg(photo credit:juice plus.com)
Jason’s road wasn’t always paved with success..he had to fight for it. He had to TRY. He told us he had moments of self doubt that made him want to curl up into a ball and hide away for a few days. He had many self doubters, including his doctors, who told him he “couldn’t do an Ironman”. But he always, ALWAYS stayed positive. He let smaller victories along his way help to continue to motivate him.

He didn’t qualify for the Ironman at first. After months of endless training in 2005, 2006, & 2007..he missed out on qualifying by 2 minutes and 4 minutes. Take it from someone who has been trying to prequalify for Boston for YEARS: it’s devastating to train for something for months, year after year, and still..you fail to reach your goal. ..and by mere minutes is particularly painful.

But the lesson to be learned is that you never, ever lose your heart. You never give up. by 2008, Jason had made the qualifying times, and placed 2nd in the Ironman. In 2009, he worked even harder…and he WON. in October of 2013, he competed again, and placed 4th-but even though he placed 4th, he didn’t lose faith that he can win once again:he had taken 40 minutes off his best time…wow.

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Jason’s speech left a profound impact on me: how can I possibly think that anything that I go through is “too hard”? Jason encouraged my team to

empower yourselves. Take one step at a time. Your heart will push you forward to go out and live your dreams

(in case you are wondering how I possibly remembered all of this stuff—>I took some dam good notes)

But wait..I haven’t told you why Jason fowler was at my kickoff event…have I??

Let me back peddle and explain to you a key detail in this story: I have a teammate named Ray Phillips. Ray has been paired with his patient partner Andy Martin for the past 14 years. At the corner of Boylston St, Ray meets up with Andy and the pair cross together. Ray used to be able to pick Andy up and simply carry him on his shoulders.. Now, Andy is way too grown up for that and Ray pushes him in his wheelchair across that famous line.

When Andy was only 4 years old, he set an incredible goal for himself that he wanted to one day compete in the Boston Marathon. Andy is now 18 years old, and is legally old enough to compete. He has competed a couple of marathons now in preparation for Boston. A lot of people have made it possible for his dreams to come true. The kid has the heart of a lion, let me tell you. He is amazing.

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(Andy and Ray, aka “Elvis” at the 2012 finish line , photo credit:HFCU.org)
Jason Fowler has been training Andy for Boston: Several years ago, Andy and Ray made a deal: when Andy was old enough: Ray would take that year off, and wait for Andy at the finish line instead. We joke that Andy will carry Ray to the finish line this year)

It sends chills down my spine to think of Ray waiting for Andy at the finish line. Last year, Ray didn’t get to finish Boston due to the epic events-but he is keeping his promise to Andy: he will be there, waiting for Andy to finish the race.

I hope this pair inspires YOU as much as they continue to inspire me!

RunFree, RunStrong!!

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