Friday, March 16, 2012

Brendan's Half Marathon For A Friend

In early July of 2010, I received an e-mail from my friend, Matt Miller, founder of the C Different Foundation, informing me he had found someone to volunteer as my sighted guide for the New York City Triathlon. The someone was a man maned Brendan hermes. Matt said Brendan and I should hit it off instantly because we had the same interests. We sent e-mails back and forth. Brendan and I then spoke on the phone. I told him how nervous I was about the swim in the Hudson River because I was not a strong swimmer by any stretch. In fact, I had recently suffered an anxiety attack in my local pool as I reached the wall at the deep end. Something happened where I just thought I'm going to be the Hudson River for one mile and without the ability to stand up as I would in the shallow end of a pool. Somehow, as I reached the deep end, that idea hit me and I was scared. I was also scared because I had completed the New York city Triathlon in 2008 when it took me eighty-four minutes of floating to finish the swim. Brendan insisted he was a stronger swimmer and he promised he would do everything in his power to help me. We remained in contact prior to my departure to NYC. Each time, Brendan said all the correct words to calm me down. When I arrived at his house two days before the race, Brendan made sure to sit me down to have a heart-to-heart about the swim. He wanted me to be honest about my abilities and fears. Again, he promised to do everything in his power to get me through the swim. As I jumped into the Hudson and realized where I was, I had an anxiety attack, but Brendan yelled at me to remain calm and trust him. I took deep breaths and relaxed. I laid on my back and began kicking and stroking through the water. Brendan kept speaking to me as we moved. Before long, I was tired. I wanted to ask how far we had gone, but I did not want to know either out of fear that we had not gone all that far. As I kept fighting the urge to ask, Brendan shouted out, "You're doing great, buddy. We just crossed 800 meters." Did I hear him correctly? We are halfway home! Suddenly, my arms and legs found new energy. My spirits were lifted and I began to kick and stroke with a purpose once more. We hit 1,000 meters. I felt like we were flying. At one point, I popped my head out of the water and believed that I heard someone shout my name. Brendan then laughed as he informed me that Matt Miller was standing on a bridge screaming his approval and encouragement for me. Brendan's laughter kept getting louder and more pronounced. I was crushing this swim. Then he told me we were just a few strokes away. Someone touched my shoulder and told me "You're done, buddy!" I stood up as Brendan and a race volunteer helped me out of the water. I had done it! Only one leg of the race was complete, but I wanted to stop, hug Brendan, and cry. His belief in me had been a wonderful source of inspiration. His laughter and joy throughout the swim made me so grateful. I cut my swim time down to thirty-seven minutes. Brendan had been a major reason why. We rolled on the bike and pushed the run to finish in a spectacular sprint at the end where I flew away from Brendan causing him to drop the tether on which he held as we ran together. I crossed the finish, but the roar from the crowd was deafening, I did not hear Brendan telling me this so I kept going until I slammed into a cameraman kneeling several feet beyond the finish line. Brendan was the main reason I succeeded in the Hudson and he remains one of the most inspiring individuals in my life to date.

One of the reasons I love Brendan so much is his heart of gold. He is a great man and a great friend who will always do what he can for friends, loved ones, and strangers. That s why I am hoping you will consider donating to his half marathon effort. He is racing a half marathon in which he aims to set a personal record by finishing in under one hour and thirty-five minutes. Brendan is also raising funds to honor his friend, Brian's mother who lost her life to Frontal Temporal Degeneration, a form of Dementia. Please log on to the following site to read more about Brendan's cause, his reason, and how Brian will match your donation dollor for dollar up to $2,500. Please feel free to leave a message of support and to pass this along to others too. I cheer for those with hearts of gold especially when they open their homes and lives to me when I am still a stranger.


  1. Thank you so much for this Isreal. I never really see myself this way, but I guess that's what makes you so great.

    1. You're welcome Brendan. Thank you for being such a wonderful person and friend.