THE IRONMAN FOUNDATION wrote -
Given a death sentence in the form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease) in May of 2005, at the age of 33, Jon accepted his diagnosis and decided to do incredible things with it. He began waging a War on ALS® from the beginning. This was his way of dealing with it; this is how he lived out his days... fighting for research and raising awareness. Focusing his energy on helping kids who were emotionally challenged and learning-disabled, Jon became a teacher at the Aseltine School. This is also where he became better known as "The Blazeman."
Competing in triathlons for 20 years, Jon always wanted to compete in an IRONMAN - especially in Hawaii. On October 15, 2005, only 5 months after being diagnosed, Jon became the only individual with ALS to complete an IRONMAN, finishing in 16:28:56. He crossed the finish line by log-rolling over it, and since then, the "log roll" has been graciously performed by countless athletes as a symbol of hope, and more importantly, as a means of raising awareness for ALS.
Jon’s impact on the sport of triathlon is one that many will never forget. In February 2007, Jon was awarded the Competitor of the Year award at the Endurance Sport Awards ceremony. Two months later, the NBC broadcast of the 2006 Ford IRONMAN World Championship won a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Edited Sports Special, of which Peter Henning dedicated to Jon. Less than one month after Jon’s passing, the World Triathlon Corporation announced a new initiative where all domestic IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, and IronGirl events will reserve race number 179, Jon’s Kona number, for a special athlete, a first in the world of triathlons. Since then, many warriors have requested number 179 at various sporting events throughout the country.
Jon always believed in ending your story with a quote. Others have already said it best, so it's better to remember those and go out strong. So here goes… “The meaning of life is to live life”...
This is why I am honored to wear Jon's bib #179 in Miami.
I found Jon's story to be inspirational while training for IMFL. His struggle put my training struggles into perspective. ALS became much more personal this year when my friend Rob passed away from ALS on Valentines Day. One of the highlights of last year was being able to do the Ice Bucket Challenge with Rob in one of our favorite places "THE SWAMP". I will always cherrish my memories of him - especially the last time I saw him in early December. It was by accident that we saw each other in the mall, we sat and talked but what will always stick with me is how he said how proud he was watching me finish Ironman Florida and that he loved me. Through all of the good and bad times I will always remember those words and what friendship means. I hope to be able to show your children what you ment to me.
I am doing this to continue the fight against ALS by raising whatever research funds I can.
Please donate what you can - IT ALL ADDS UP