Friday, March 22, 2013

Everyday - A Hero

In my short and decidedly unspectacular running career (giving that term an expansive definition neither envisioned nor sanctioned by the Einstein Estate) I have participated in three marathons - completing only two of them.  I failed to win either the 2011 New Jersey Marathon or the 2012 New Jersey Marathon.  I was not only not the overall winner, I was not the first-place finisher among men.  I was not the first-place finisher in my age group.  Sadly, I was neither the first runner named "Adam" nor the first runner named "Kenny" to finish.  

I mention all of that in a lame attempt to provide an adequate backdrop for the level of admiration and respect I have for 32 year-old Iram Leon.  Two weeks ago yesterday - on March 9 - Leon won the 2013 Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas in a time of 3:07:36.  He won while pushing his six-year-old daughter Kiana in a stroller the entire length of the 26.2 mile course.  His winning time was approximately six minute better than his closest competitor.  

Mr. Leon's achievement is all the more remarkable for this reason:  he has terminal brain cancer.  The cancer is situated in his left temporal lobe.   His doctors have apparently advised him that before this strain of cancer kills him it will likely first deprive him of his memory.  Post-race he commented that he hopes the memory of this race not only lives in Kiana's mind for the rest of her life but that it remains enmeshed in his memory for most of whatever remains of his.  

Kiana is his only child and his inspiration.  His story - their story - is one that should be known and shared by one and all.   He tells it far better than my limited skill set would ever permit me to do.  Do yourself the very great favor of reading his blog, Picking Up a Hitchhiker, and getting better acquainted with him, his little girl and his philosophy on diminishing the specter of his death sentence by maximizing the days he has left to live.    

Words to Iram Leon to live by - and for each of us as well.   As the great Bernard Malamud once observed, "Without heroes we are all plain people and don't know how far we can go."   Iram Leon and his daughter Kiana stand as examples to remind us that we can always go one step more.  


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