Despite being a not-so-closet political junkie/semi-obsessed debate addict/campaign speechwriter wannabe (for a couple months at least), I am leaving all-things political related back in Charlotte. I promise. Not one repetitive campaign slogan, no one-liners, and absolutely no cheesy overused talking points. Not one. This weekend is all about one thing, er, maybe two or even three…but the one thing we know for sure is running is definitely one of them!
Rock Our Nation’s Capitol will mark the completion of my 3rd half marathon this calendar year in preparation for the Great Wall of China Marathon this May. I am very excited to be participating in my first ever Rock ‘N Roll event and even prouder to be sharing this experience with my good friend Adam, who will be running and finishing his 1st FULL marathon as a precursor to China.
I am pumped to be heading back to Washington D.C. I have an affinity for this scenic city, the historical national monuments, and hopefully a sneak peak at the famous cherry blossoms – the nation’s greatest springtime celebration commemorating their 100th year of the gift of trees. No doubt the atmosphere will be infectious! My bag is packed and I am ready to go…
I don’t even need to catch the end of this political commentary, and in case you are wondering, it is not being DVR’d. At least, not to the best of my knowledge.
This non-political message is approved by the Run4Papa Campaign.
Myself with Dr. Marsel Mesulam, Director of Northwestern CNADC and man who first identified PPA.
Leaving 70 degree weather behind in Charlotte, North Carolina and heading up north to the Windy City of 25 degrees, blistering winds and snow may not sound ideal on paper; however, when such a tremendous group of people come together for a great cause like this one, it’s a no brainer!
The goal? To get a bunch of local Chicago-ans and friends together in one room to support THE CAUSE by raising awareness and funds for the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center (CNADC), the #1 research facility in the world for PPA research. Thanks to Kevin Connolly and his wonderful team at CNADC, we brought in over 100+ guests for this event. Friends came in the cold to support this journey and our host, Rock Bottom Brewery, did a fantastic job of keeping people’s glasses and bellies full the entire evening.
Not only did this fundraiser bring a hefty amount of money, but we had a multitude of activities taking place throughout including a PPA video (made in my hometown of Charlotte), a silent auction and a raffle featuring prizes local Chicago-ans took full advantage of.
We had the distinct honor of meeting Dr. Marsel Mesulam, the doctor who first identified PPA and Director of the CNADC medical department along with his wife Dr. Sandra Weintraub, a renowned doctor with a PhD in NeuroPsychology . We had the pleasure of meeting patients who had been diagnosed with PPA who were proud of the work being down with this campaign along with their inspirational family members fighting everyday for more awareness and treatment for THE CAUSE. We had friends and family that lived in Chicago show-up as well as people whom have been following this cause from Day 1. I was thrilled to finally meet them in person! On top of that, there were several people who ran The Great Wall of China Half and Full Marathon in attendance. You better believe I was picking their brains for stories, advice and feedback about the run ahead!
Through the diligent work of the CNADC team, 6 amazing packages were assembled for the silent auction. Moreover, a raffle was held at the end of the evening giving away prizes from local Chicago vendors and sponsors.
Lori Gapinski, one of many people attending the event remarked, “Had a wonderful time tonight at the fundraiser. Such good people and all our best to Jason. Thank you for all that you are doing! Good Luck on Sunday and May 19th! We all will be thinking of you as you are doing such a wonderful thing for the people that are suffering with PPA and the loved ones surrounding them.”
You never know how an event is going to come together when you start from scratch, but I think it is fair to say, we were blown away by the turnout and support last night. Without a doubt, the CNADC fundraiser delivered BIG-TIME!
With the fundraiser being a massive success across the board, we can now focus on the race ahead – Hustling up the Hancock building against 4,000 other competitors.
94 Flights. 1,632 steps await. Wouldn’t have it any other way!
This is what the Jackie Onassis Reservoir looks like on a warm summer’s morning. The colors are magnificent, the surrounding park is breathtaking and the city skyline reflects off the water.
In the novel Marathon Man, the main character muses that, “Whoever invented the reservoir must have done it with him alone in mind. It was without flaw, a perfect lake set in the most unexpected of locations.”
Anyone who has ever run, walked, or stood watching the sun rise or set over the water feels that same way. There’s a sense of space and solitude here, unlike any other part of the Park.
Unfortunately, I did not experience this particular scenery as I took a last minute trip to visit my sister in Manhattan before she jet-setted across the pond to study abroad in the UK. As usual, I stayed with my youngest brother Jared in his apartment and we had another epic weekend in the Big Apple which included many delicious meals, a handful of alcoholic beverages, some shopping at his favorite store UNIQLO, a Knicks game (where one team showed up), and of course, a run for the Run4Papa campaign.
Location: Jacqueline Onassis Reservoir, Manhattan, New York.
Temperature and Time: a brisk 19 degrees (not including the wind-chill), High Noon.
Running attire: beanie for head, scarf for neck, winter coat, two pairs of sweats, socks and running shoes (gloves were a big oversight).
Who wanted to be at Central Park in these conditions: not my brother (but he was a good sport).
What did the reservoir look like in January at eye level? See below.
Without much hesitation, Jared quickly filmed a segment on location and I jogged the couple mile route around the reservoir as my brother patiently waited for my return (his ears getting redder by the minute!). Not surprisingly, there were other people running and even one maniac in shorts and short sleeves! Despite the weather, the scenery was beautiful. The skyline was reflecting off the water and with the many of the tree leaves gone, you could see for miles and miles.
Throughout this journey, I have relished training in a variety of unique weather and terrain elements because it makes you constantly reassess your breathing and pace. Whether it’s a shorter run like this one, or a longer one like trail runs or half marathons, training in a tougher environment helps to minimize running mistakes such as jogging at too quick a pace and fighting through mental walls throughout a given race.
My philosophy has always been and will continue to be: “Running is 80% mental, 20% physical.”
And while my training methods are neither regimented or normal by anyone’s standards, I believe they provide consistent and improving pacing results in every race. A more concerted effort toward maximizing my training runs ultimately leads to less wear and tear on my knees and ankles. Through a strong sense of visualization and will-power, I will continue to put one step in front of the other toward this campaign and every run ahead.
The film “Aphasia”, the true story of actor Carl McIntyre who, after suffering a massive stroke and losing his ability to read, write and talk, struggles against overwhelming odds to redefine his life.
I had the great pleasure to sit down and meet Jim Gloster (Producer/Writer/Director) and Donna S. Scott (Executive Producer) of the movie “Aphasia” last night at a local bar called Sir Edmund Halley’s in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was referred to these two wonderful people through a Twitter mixer many months back. Everyone at this meeting was telling me to get in touch with Jim and Donna and boy was I pleased to have this opportunity to speak with them about creating more awareness for PPA and Aphasia worldwide.
The movie is based on Jim’s friend of 20+ years named Carl, an actor who suffered a severe stroke on September 15th, 2005. Immediately following the stroke, Carl was virtually unable to speak, a condition know as Aphasia. Jim and Donna along with two other team members created this impactful movie to educate those within the medical community, those unaware of Aphasia’s symptoms, and to help bring a voice to patients and families fighting against this disease day-in & day-out.
More than 100,000 Americans develop Aphasia annually. Aphasia affects about one million Americans, or 1 in 250 people. It is more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. However, most people have still never heard of Aphasia. While the most common cause is a stroke, Aphasia can also result from head injury, brain tumor, or other neurological causes.
In 2008, Carl began making presentations to Speech-Language Pathology classes about his experiences during the stroke and his subsequent recovery process. These engaging presentations also examine Carl’s technique of picture association which enables him to remember specific words.
It is the success of these presentations which sparked the idea for the film project and the development of other presentations. The success of the film “Aphasia” has led to Carl’s new career as a motivational speaker. He has captivated audiences nationwide with his inspiring story.
Both Jim and Donna travel across the United States as well as international locations such as Australia with Carl for speaking engagements where they screen their movie. Following the movie, Carl comes out and speaks to the audience about his story. There is also an ensuing Question and Answer session after his speech.
They have over 30 speaking trips planned in 2012 alone!
This was a tremendous honor to speak with both of these inspirational people who are doing everything in their power to help bring “Aphasia” onto the national stage. I know they will be successful with this project and their future endeavors.
Day 135 of 315: Turkey Bowl V pushes overall donation total past $30,000!
The 5th Annual Turkey Bowl began like many years before with each team getting together for their own pre-game rituals (which will remain behind closed doors for tradition-sake), and meeting at Andover Field at 9am sharp, on Black Friday morning. The F.A.M.I.L.Y. always rides together while The Dark Team inevitably drives separately per their mantra “You are family. We are individuals” infamously coined by Andrew Sherman, #15 of the Dark Team. As we approached the football gridiron, we could see The Dark Team warming up. We always try to arrive before them, but alas, they beat us every year.
Like many traditions (seemingly superstitions repeated because they worked in years past), The F.A.M.I.L.Y. locks arm-in-arm and walks toward the field only to sprint from the end zone to the 50 yard line. This year, we added a new element to the mix by taking a knee (not an homage to Tebow for you Gator lovers) and screamed at the top of our lungs “Faaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmily” followed by the blowing of a shofar (for effect of course) and sprinted to midfield to warm-up.
Before Turkey Bowl V officially kicked off, our special guest of honor “Papa,” walked out for two ceremonial acts. The first presentation was on behalf of both teams who graciously came together in support of Papa and PPA for our annual game. We raised $1,650 from players, friends and family in support of the Run4Papa campaign going directly to fund research at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University. Secondly, we were honored to have Papa flip the coin for possession. He was so excited to participate that at Thanksgiving dinner, he was showing me his coin flipping motion time and time again. Michael, the captain for the Dark Team chose tails, and as fate would have it, it turned up heads. “You brought a ringer” one of the players shouted and with that intensity level, Turkey Bowl V was underway.
Each touchdown is worth 1 point and the first team to 10 points wins. The F.AM.I.L.Y. chose to defer until the second half and started on defense. We got an immediate 3-and-out and went on offense. Neither team could score on its first 3 possessions. Eventually, The F.A.M.I.L.Y. went ahead 1-0 only to be matched right away by the Dark Team. The nerves and tension were palpable and with no timeouts, subs, or stoppage in the game besides switching sides or temporary injuries, players have to be ready for an adrenaline filled morning. At 2-2, The Dark Team’s rookie quarterback, Dakota, threw an interception which ultimately led to a 3-2, then 4-2 lead for The F.A.M.I.L.Y. At 5-2, the Dark Team made several interceptions (Rogers) and defensive stands of their own to close the gap at 6-4 by halftime.
Last year, the game was 5-5 at halftime. The Dark Team ended up running away with the game winning 10-6 convincingly and we vowed not to let this repeat happen again. Two hours into the game, the jawing continued and emotions were running high as The F.A.M.I.L.Y. led 7-4. The Dark Team was gaining solid yardage by transitioning to a “hurry-up” offense which forced us to adjust from zone to man-to-man coverage; that is, until yours truly got beat on back-to-back plays! As a result, we switched back to zone defense. With the score at 9-6 in favor of The F.A.M.I.L.Y., player’s calves were cramping, their bodies were hurting and each stop was vital to maintain momentum. But like all great rivalries, neither team nor player would EVER admit to hurting and broke through numerous mental and physical walls because of what the next 364 days brings for the loser: utter disappointment and shame.
The last touchdown is always the hardest.
We couldn’t score and we were having a tough time stopping their rookie Quarterback. He was elusive and poised throughout the afternoon. As the score tightened to 9-7, and after every cliché had been spoken in the huddles and between teammates, our quarterback Dustin lead our team down the field by scrambling like a man determined not to be defeated. He lead our team all day and toward the end zone for a 10-7 victory!
The 3-hour melee finally came to an end. Both teams shook hands and we posed for a couple post-game pictures as is our tradition. As players left the field, each person signed the check that was presented to “Papa” at the pre-game ceremony. We all headed off to a local pizza joint called Buddy’s to eat homemade minestrone soup, salad and some of the tastiest square slices the great state of Michigan has to offer.
As part of our newest tradition, the winning team gets to choose the charity of choice for next year…o, and enjoy the victory for the next 364 days!
Where & When? Andover Field – November 25th, 2011, 9:00 AM
What happens when arch rivals decide to come together ONE day a year over Thanksgiving weekend? Time to pick a side!!!
For years, we have had an annual Thanksgiving day game in Detroit and I am not referring to the Detroit Lions. The game is known as The Turkey Bowland always kicks-off on Black Friday in our hometown of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The rules are simple: whichever team scores 10 touchdowns first wins. We play an aggressive game of 2-hand touch where inevitably someone is walking off the field injured. Not surprisingly, our shirts are white and theirs are black (insert any creative metaphor you like here). Make no mistake, this is an extremely heated rivalry between two teams: F.A.M.I.L.Y. versus The DARK Team.
BUT this year, we have the notion of a greater good being a fundamental staple for our annual game. We want to come together to support a cause by fundraising for not only this year’s game but all future games down the line. With that premise, we present: The Turkey Bowl V Meets Run4Papa Challenge to help raise awareness and funds for those fighting PPA each and every day.
The minimum goal is a $1,000.
Each player is going to pledge X amount as well as promote the game and cause together in hopes of spreading the word about PPA and getting others in the community to be part of this annual event. 100% of all donations go to fund research.
The winner of the Turkey Bowl gets to choose the charity for next year so besides bragging rights and pride, this incentive adds so much more to the rivalry.
The F.A.M.I.LY.– consists of my younger two brothers, my first cousin, and 3 of our closest family friends. We have no egos, we are unselfish, we have no names on the backs of our jerseys and we don’t care who scores so long as we come out victorious. We are unified.
The Dark Team – a bunch of highly fueled competitors who we have grown up with that come together one day a year to go up against us. They constantly replace teammates on a yearly basis if they don’t perform. Nonetheless, do not be fooled. They are highly individually talented, but when put together, things can get chaotic. “You guys are family. We are individuals.” – Andrew Sherman, member of the Dark Team.
Officially, The F.A.M.I.L.Y. leads the overall series 3-1; however, the DARK team won convincingly last year and are looking to retain the title and repeat. Just like Michigan v. Ohio State, both squads look forward to this game for 364 days a year and bragging rights are everything. Losing last year has left the most sour taste in our mouth and I can’t fathom how they dealt with it the previous 1,095 days before!
We have a couple special surprises in store and look forward to competing head-to-head on the field.