Well yesterday I did the ice bucket challenge and today will be making a donation to ALS Canada at www.als.ca. Whether you’re challenged to take that chilly shower in ice or not, I urge you to learn a little more about this disease and the people its affected.
If you don’t know already, ALS is an insidious, fatal neurodegenerative disease. People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis– unable to breathe or swallow. Ten per cent of those affected may live for 10 years or longer.
So with the awareness being raised for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, I just wanted to share this video and story.
If you’ve ever watched an Ironman finish line whether on TV or in person, you may have seen a finisher or two do a log roll across the finish line. That gesture is a tribute to the memory of Jon Blais, the triathlete who completed Kona in 2005 after having been diagnosed with ALS. He said before his race “Even if I have to be rolled across the finish line, I’m finishing.”
It was stories like his thats part of what inspired me and so many others to race Ironman. Watching the Kona broadcasts on NBC years ago, I had nothing but admiration for the men and women like Jon who refused to allow a condition or setback to derail them from their goals and dreams. Seeing their stories, I thought to myself that if they can do and Ironman with the challenges between them and their goal, then what excuse do I have to not doing something that I’m inspired to do? Like Jon, we all only have a finite amount of time on this world and some of us happen to be blessed with a little more time than others, but we shouldn’t allow that to push off doing the things that we want to do.
Anyways, Jon Blais finished his Ironman, and his story was captured on film and almost ten years after he crossed the line his legacy is still a part of the sport. Many triathlons continue to support the Blazeman Foundation for ALS thanks to his inspiring story. Jon passed away two years after he crossed the finish line in Kailua Kona.